We will be wearing masks on Mardi Gras this year… just not the kind we were hoping for.
Unfortunately, the highly contagious Coronavirus has stuck around, and while there is hope of vaccinations being distributed by summer, New Orleans will not celebrate Mardi Gras like usual. The mayor has claimed that the holiday is NOT cancelled, but that the krewes will not hold parades and social distancing/mask-wearing will be enforced. However, there may be hope for us to enjoy our unique break from school.
Fat Tuesday will officially occur on February 16th this year and Tulane is still cancelling classes in honor of the holiday. While the mass gatherings and parades will not occur like usual, there are many other safe ways to celebrate the holiday with your close friends- or your “COVID pod” if you will- this year. Enjoy these ideas, have fun, and stay safe this Carnival season!
1) Dress up
Dressing up in crazy costumes during Carnival season is a great tradition! It is rumored that when Grand Duke Alexis visited in 1872, his committee handed out purple, green, and gold beads to his party guests because they were the colors of his home. These colors eventually symbolized the festivities and were later given meanings: purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith.
2) Go to “Floats in the Oaks”
City Park is hosting the first ever “Floats in the Oaks,” featuring stationary floats from all the favorite Krewes. Bacchus, Rex, Hermes, Zulu, Femme Fatale, King Arthur, Argua, Alla, Babylon, Druids, Carrollton, and Morpheus will all create spectacles for you to see with your pod! There will be amazing photo opportunities and City Park is always a fun weekend adventure with friends! Note: This event requires tickets and is a drive-through event! See http://neworleanscitypark.com/floats-in-the-oaks
On top of that, this is a great time to learn about the krewes that make Mardi Gras so festive! Mardi Gras krewes are social organizations that host balls and put on parades each carnival season. Some krewes have open membership, while others are highly exclusive or secretive. They can be organized by neighborhood, interest, or involvement in the community. Historically, krewes were all male, but the first all-female krewes began to appear in the early 1900s. The two best-known krewes that parade on Mardi Gras are the Krewe of Rex and the Krewe of Zulu.
3) Learn about the Mardi Gras Indians
You are lucky if you’ve ever seen the Mardi Gras Indians in their ritual headdresses and vibrant outfits. The history of this group is fascinating and unique to New Orleans. Bury the Hatchet is a great informational documentary that talks about the rich history and background of the tribe.
4) Throw and clean up some beads
After every Mardi Gras, beads cover the streets and fill the trees of New Orleans. Beads are fun and festive, but they also contribute a huge amount of waste every year. If you find beads on the street you can recycle them, throw them in trees, or collect them. You could also find ways to repurpose them, like turning them into art.
5) Decorate your house or door
The city of New Orleans asked residents to decorate their houses to look like floats for passersby to enjoy. Many of the houses on St. Charles have already gotten into the spirit and decked out their houses with magical décor. Go for a walk to check out what people have done in your neighborhood or decorate your own house! If you live in the dorms, you could decorate your door with a wreath and streamers!
One of our Crescent writers, Ellie Monieson, helped out local artist Josh Hailey, to create hand-painted, wooden cutouts that resemble small New Orleans houses. Going to take pictures of these picturesque works of art are a great way to celebrate with the community! This display can be found on the corner of Pauline and Dauphine. This is also a great way to support local artists! Follow the Tulane students who worked to make this float come alive: @Mayahoward.art @littlemissscamera @sophie.lieber15 and the artist, @joshhailey!
Eating king cake is a delicious way to get into the Mardi Gras spirit. You can buy various fillings including strawberry, pecan, cinnamon, and almond. The best bakeries to buy king cake from are Bywater Bakery, Dong Phuong, Caluda’s King Cake, Antonie’s Famous Cakes, or for a unique king cake, Willa Jean. But, if you have extra time on your hands, you could make your own king cake from scratch! Try this recipe: https://www.louisianatravel.com/culinary/recipes/traditional-king-cake-recipe
Other traditional dishes include crawfish etouffee, dirty rice, jambalaya, donuts and beignets. Mardi Gras is the time to treat yourself and overindulge before lent. Go king cake crazy!
7) Enjoy the days off!
It’s still the best holiday ever and should be celebrated in some form. Luckily, Tulane has given us a day off and many are taking the time to relax and spend time with close friends or housemates. As long as the celebrations are safe, be freaky and have fun in a mask!
Grace Gottesman is a junior from Seattle, WA who enjoys film photography, traveling, and cooking! Through the Crescent, Grace wants to share her love for art, mental health and wellness, sustainability, and her favorite city, New Orleans.