Mardi Gras becomes Yardi Gras

No parades. No balls. No bars. No hordes of visitors reveling in iconic Mardi Gras celebrations. You’d think that would plunge a city into a deep depression. Well, not if that city is New Orleans.

Don’t get me wrong, there was depression. How could there not be? But then some of New Orleans’ many creative types came up with a way to celebrate in a new way while put unemployed float artisans to work. Instead of parade floats rumbling down the streets, what if people decorated their homes in the same spectacular way? Thus the concept of “house floats” was born, championed by the Krewe of Red Beans and promoted through impromptu websites like Hireamardigrasartist.com and kreweofhousefloats.org. The city’s indominable residents embraced the idea, egged on by those of us who have an umbilical attachment to the Big Easy, there in spirit, if not in body. House floats sprouted up everywhere. (Check out nola.com for additional fabulous photos.) And Mardi Gras morphed into Yardi Gras. (Google #YardiGras for even more pix.)

I’ve shared my own story all over social media but I have to repeat it here. I saw a house float with a decoration that looked remarkably similar to the cover of my book, MARDI GRAS MURDER.

The home’s address was on the photo, so on impulse I sent a copy of my book to whomever lived there – a complete stranger. I explained that I was a Tulane alum, our daughter is a junior at Loyola, and my family has a passionate love for the city. The stranger found me on Facebook, introduced herself, and then a week later, a box arrived for me…

How amazing is this?! Now the homeowner Lori and I are e-friends who plan on meeting in person the next time I’m in town.

While some people are spending big bucks on decorations, others are going the homemade route, like my college buddy and sorority sis (KKG, if you’re interested) Shawn Holahan, who handcrafted this salute to the local musicians who’ve created impromptu concerts during the pandemic to keep up everyone’s spirits.

New Orleans is renown for so many things. Gorgeous architecture, amazing food, and a joie de vie exemplified by the motto laissez les bon temps rouler – let the good times roll. This motto exemplifies the bedrock of what makes Nola/the Crescent City/The Big Easy/The City That Care Forgot such a special place – its incredible citizens. Joyful, creative, resilient, warm, good-humored, generous – the city survives and thrives because it’s populated by a people who time and time again, against daunting odds that might crush us mere mortals, know how to turn lemons into lemonade.

And if that isn’t a house float theme somewhere in New Orleans, it will be mine if I ever get lucky enough to live there.

Readers, have you ever been to New Orleans? What’s something special about where you live? And here are more Yardi Gras pictures, courtesy of my daughter!

37 thoughts on “Mardi Gras becomes Yardi Gras

  1. I love this! I have never been to New Orleans, but it sounds like an amazing city filled with wonderful people. Those houses look gorgeous too, with or without Yardi Gras decorations. And how cool to make a new friend in such a unique way!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I was in New Orleans for Bouchercon and had a blast. Love the concept of Yardi Gras.

    Special about where I live, well, there’s the Statue of Liberty, then the Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, Macy’s and Broadway.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re lucky enough to live in my other favorite city, AND my hometown. There’s nothing like all the places you mentioned. Lordie, I do love NY with all my heart. It’s duking it out with NOLA for first place right now!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Last time I was in NOLA was like almost 40 years ago, after I graduated high school. Just got kicked out of my house, and went to Slidell to a friend’s to figure out my life.
    I was there in NOLA as they were prepping for the big gala. Everyone was partying and having so much fun. They were all so friendly. This was back when there was a younger drinking age, so I had my very first alcoholic. Drink in NOLA. A screwdriver. A time I will never forget.
    FYI. When I got to Slidell, I called my friend to find out how to get to her. Back before cell phones (1982), so I stopped at the Fountainblue hotel and used a pay phone. When Lisa found out where I was, she told me to get in the car and lock the doors. I had stopped at the hotel where the hookers hung out of course, only I would pick the only bad hotel in town!
    Special times in NOVA? It’s the but s of DC. Lots of fun times. Lots of fun places, many I have yet to explore, even after 20 years. Still looking for the right speakeasy for visit.
    I can’t wAit for tomorrow. I have some indoor decor ready to put up, and my mask is clean and ready to wear!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I’ve enjoyed all of the house float photos you’ve been sharing, Ellen! They’ve certainly brightened my winter. My family visited New Orleans in June, 2019 and had a great time. The food, the music, the architecture, were all amazing. My wife and I have it on our list of places to pay a return visit. 🍹

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Kaye, that’s hilarious. When I first heard the term, I was like, huh? Are they putting houses on wheels? The flooding aspect didn’t occur to me. Given today’s weather, some of them may turn into actual floats!

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  5. I haven’t been to NOLA either, but I feel as if I know the city (or at least its spirit), thanks to El! Great photos, and many thanks to Eliza for checking out more floats for us. The Mardi Gras joy is extending up here to the Frozen Northlands. (And I can’t believe how much that cool house decor matches your book cover, El, right down to the Basset!)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Yardi Gras has given us a different view of the festivities from home. It has taken us from the neighborhoods that people call home for a few days a year and instead brought us to the New Orleans that is home every day of the year. I love that people took chances and let their hearts rule(Laisse le Cœur Régner), the results were amazing. I am so thrilled you found Lori the way that you did. One of the best stories of the season ever.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My first trip to NOLA was back in about 1983, when I flew east for a friend’s wedding in Houston. After the wedding, a bunch of us (including the newlyweds) drove to NOLA for several days to celebrate–and what a great place to celebrate that city is! We stayed with a friend of the bride’s who lived in a house surrounded on all sides by graveyards–how cool is that?! Yes, we did have us some fun…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Love your connections to the Crescent City, El! And love the Yardi Gras pics! I’m especially impressed with your friend Shawn’s decorating — and the fact she did it herself!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve been enjoying the pictures you’ve been sharing on social media. So fun and creative.

    I’ve been to New Orleans once, in the summer. I’d love to go back, although I’m not so sure about going back during Mardi Gras. I think the crowds might be a bit too much for me then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a crazy time, for sure. By my third one, I was carefully picking and choosing which parades to attend. But the best part was, I got to go to two Mardi Gras balls because one of my besties was queen of Proteus and a maid in the court of Rex!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve been reading about Yardi Gras, so clever and fun. Your pics are great, Ellen! Hubs and I have NOLA on our list, but never during Mardi Gras. Too overwhelming for this country girl!

    Liked by 2 people

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