Put away your tutus, ladders, and signs, there will be no Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans in 2021. While this news is devastating for parade-lovers, and more importantly, New Orleans business owners, it’s not exactly surprising.
The US has surged in COVID cases over the last week, and our amount of cases is predicted to keep getting worse through the winter. A “winter spike” is predicted in December or January, which would be at the beginning of the Mardi Gras season.
Although New Orleans was spared from most of the autumn surges in COVID cases, last week we had an alarming jump to 2.2% of tests coming back positive compared to 1.2% the week before. This week, Orleans parish has had about 60 new cases a day, while the goal is to be below 50. Louisiana as a whole had its biggest surge in cases this week since early August.
With the recent rise in cases, the Mayor’s office, which previously had floated the idea of structured crowds and groups, televised events, and even stationary floats, decided parades of any kind were not worth the risk.
The Mayor’s office made sure to clarify that while “Mardi Gras is different” because there will be no parades and COVID rules will have to be followed, it’s “not canceled.”
On the Mayor’s Office page of the New Orleans official website, they added a Mardi Gras 2021 FAQs section which explains, “The City of New Orleans cannot cancel Mardi Gras because it is a religious Holiday, however, we will not be able to celebrate the Holiday this year as we have in the past…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”
Mardi Gras 2020 has been cited by medical officials as what was probably a ”super-spreader event.” Following Mardi Gras 2020, in the first two weeks of outbreaks, Louisiana experienced the largest rate of increase in COVID-19 cases in the world. Experiencing such a rapid outbreak rate after holding a massive party that drew crowds from all over the world during a rising pandemic was clearly no coincidence.
As sad as not having parades may be, Mardi Gras balls and house parties will still be allowed, as long as they follow strict COVID-19 guidelines.
Outside of Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish has yet to cancel Mardi Gras parades, with a representative stating, “we’ve had some calls from New Orleans parades, but nothing definite” implying they may allow Orleans Parish krewes to roll in Jefferson.
However, recently Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng commented on Mardi Gras parades, “I’m not saying it can’t be done. It’s still three months away, but unfortunately, it looks like the numbers aren’t working in our favor right now, today.”
She has reportedly been speaking with krewe captains about rescheduling Mardi Gras to later in 2021. She commented, “There’s no reason that we can’t do it later in the year, I’m told from the medical community that next summer and fall will look very different from where we are now.”
Meanwhile, the city of Mobile is planning on having Mardi Gras parades in 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic. The city is getting ready to issue permits to parades, although some krewes have already called off events due to the pandemic.