During a Mardi Gras Advisory Council meeting on Nov. 5, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that Mardi Gras 2021, while “not canceled,” would be “different” from carnivals in the past.
The major difference — no parades.
On Monday, the mayor’s website was updated with a Mardi Gras 2021 FAQs page. The question, “Will there be parades in the City of New Orleans this year?” is paired with the answer, “Parades of any kind will not be permitted this year because large gatherings have proven to be super spreader events of the COVID-19 virus.”
The website said that the city cannot cancel Mardis Gras, as it is a religious holiday, but that it won’t be celebrated the way it has been prior years.
In a press conference on Tuesday, the city’s director of communications confirmed parades would be canceled, given that COVID-19 cases are on the rise and that current state guidelines restrict crowds of more than 250 people.
New Orleans’ percent positivity rate jumped from 1.1 to 2.2 and the city has had 10 COVID-19 related deaths and nearly 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past week
“Common sense would tell you that parades are not possible under current guidelines,” Tidwell said. “I don’t think this should be a surprise to anyone.”
However, during the Advisory Council Meeting, recommendations including krewes keeping riders on floats 6 feet apart and riders abstaining from taunting pedestrians with throws to avoid them rushing the floats were provided, which may have led people to believe that parades were likely. With the new ban on parades, these recommendations are no longer applicable.
The mayor’s website said that some krewes will host balls during Mardi Gras 2021, that Bourbon and Frenchmen Streets will be open and adhering to whatever COVID-19 restrictions are in place, and that residents can plan Mardis Gras parties at their homes.
When Pressed on why the city posted the parade restriction to the website without announcing it to the public, Tidwell said the information could have gone out “more artfully.”
Tidwell said that the city is not discouraging tourists from coming to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but they must follow the city’s and state’s COVID-19 guidelines and they should not expect it to feel like Mardis Gras of the past.