While we’ve long encouraged visitors and ex-pats to “be a New Orleanian wherever you are,” it seems this year the whole country is taking us seriously. Due to the pandemic, the usual 2+ weeks-long Mardi Gras celebrations and parades have been canceled. Dismayed, but not deterred, locals stepped up in a big way with the advent of the “house float” (a.k.a. #yardigras) and it seems the colorfully lit and brightly decorated (yet safely social distanced) celebration has swept across the country. Homes all over the city decked out as their own uniquely-themed “floats” are not only featured all over the Gulf Coast news outlets, I’ve seen articles in USA Today, The Smithsonian, and even a listing in Snopes! Plus, if you check out the new Krewe of House Floats’ official map, you’ll notice that folks all over the U.S. are getting in on the action, from the San Francisco Bay Area to New York City.
Generally, I do not suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), but this year felt different. The pandemic, social distancing, the cancellation of Mardi Gras parades — all of this is history in the making and its really quite awe-inspiring to experience this city’s resilience in the face of all obstacles. I saw it during the levee failures of 2005 and now it’s happening again. How could I hide inside my crappy little apartment and let it all pass me by? Well, I couldn’t.
This Saturday last, I dragged John out of the house, figuratively kicking and screaming, and had him drive me about to admire and photograph house floats. That morning I asked Alexa “What’s the weather today?” She responded “In New Orleans, it’s 71° Fahrenheit and dreary… “
The dictionary defines dreary as “dull, bleak and lifeless,” and I had to admit, Alexa’s description was dead on. Everything was awash in gray, that is everything but the house floats . . .
A lot of the floats we passed were still “under construction,” and the traffic was so bad on St. Charles near the grandiose decorations on display at the skeleton house and the wedding cake house (we’re talking dinosaurs!), we couldn’t get anywhere near them! Think I can convince John to drive me around again this weekend?