The good times can still roll, just safely

In+lieu+of+Mardi+Gras+parades%2C+which+were+canceled+this+year%2C+New+Orleans+residents+did+not+miss+the+opportunity+to+celebrate+the+holiday+and+express+their+creativity+through+%22house+floats%22+for+passersby+to+view+and+feel+the+Carnival+spirit.+This+house+on+St.+Charles+Avenue+is+circus-themed+with+balloons%2C+animals+and+other+circus+decorations.

Nicholas Herring/Le Souvenir

In lieu of Mardi Gras parades, which were canceled this year, New Orleans residents did not miss the opportunity to celebrate the holiday and express their creativity through “house floats” for passersby to view and feel the Carnival spirit. This house on St. Charles Avenue is circus-themed with balloons, animals and other circus decorations.

King cake season is upon us, and, in a way, we have officially come full circle. 

Barely two weeks after Mardi Gras 2020, and I know we all remember the date, came the lockdown announcements, cancellations, virtual transitions and the like. 

Last year, Mardi Gras was more chaotic and tragic than usual due to the several deaths caused by parade floats. Everyone had their fun, free of the unknown future where a pandemic outbreak would prevent social outings for months on end. But already, recklessness was wreaking havoc on the Carnival celebrations. 

In addition to the tragedies, last year’s Mardi Gras parades and celebrations likely fueled the outbreak in Louisiana far beyond what it may have been otherwise. It is not a coincidence that Fat Tuesday was less than a month before quarantine and stay-at-home orders began. We didn’t know any better at the time. 

I apologize for being a negative Nancy, but I think we can use this opportunity to regroup and not make the same mistakes we made at Mardi Gras last year. 

You think we have had a whole year to regroup? You want to be able to go out and party during one of Louisiana’s greatest holidays, after a year of holding back? 

Here is what I have to say to that: Grow up. 

You can find green, purple and gold attire and beads at the store or in your collections from prior years. Hook your phone up to a loudspeaker, and dance with your family at home. Play festive music and dance til you drop. Visit New Orleans to see the decorated houses. Decorate your own. 

A house at 4026 St. Charles Ave. is decorated by the Krewe of Muses to display the nine Muses of Greek Mythology. (Nicholas Herring/Le Souvenir)

And let me tell you, there will never be a shortage of king cake at this time of the year. Eat your heart out. 

Sometimes, the small celebrations are more memorable and meaningful than the big ones. I encourage you to find a creative way to feel the Carnival spirit without putting yourself or others in danger.

Mardi Gras will still be special this year and next year and the year after that. In fact, this might be the most memorable Mardi Gras yet because of the unique circumstances. 

I personally have not truly celebrated Mardi Gras in many years because I may or may not have grown into more of a homebody over time. But that is exactly why I am here to give you my professional homebody advice for making the most out of at-home and/or small celebrations.

I am here to tell you that you are capable of surviving one Mardi Gras season without parades and pandemic-ridden parties. 

If you did not know this already, the more parties that continue to happen without any care for the advice from others or safety precautions, the less likely will be our return to some sense of normalcy.

Fewer parties equal less COVID, which will eventually equal (you guessed it) more opportunities for parties. I know you see those posts online about the countries who have cleared of the virus, and you think, “Man, I wish that was us.”

Well, here is your chance to take one step toward making that happen. Tell your friends. 

To make the season even more unprecedented than previous years, our state is experiencing extremely low temperatures this week. Do yourself a favor and stay off the icy roads. The risks are just all-around too high this year.

Mardi Gras is not “canceled.” It simply takes some reimagining to enjoy the holiday at home this year. 

I believe in you. Have hope. Soldier on, Louisianians, and have a happy Mardi Gras!