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!