A Virtual Mardi Gras Parade with House Floats

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Friday, February 5, 2021
As big parades and large gatherings are canceled this Mardi Gras season due the pandemic, more energy has been put into "house floats" home decorations this year. 

As big parades and large gatherings are canceled this Mardi Gras season due the pandemic, more energy has been put into "house floats" home decorations this year. St Charles Avenue, Uptown New Orleans, 2021. | Infrogmation of New Orleans

House Floats Transform Mardi Gras Celebrations

After a New Orleans spokesperson announced that there would be no Mardi Gras parades this year, a “house float” movement started soon thereafter. One woman tweeted a joke about making houses into parade floats, and it went viral. At the beginning of January, the group already had more than 9,000 members. Read the summary, and answer the discussion questions below. Click here to view the whole story by Janet McConnaughey at the Associated Press. 

  • Some other Mardi Gras replacement celebrations include scavenger hunts, outdoor art, drive-through and virtual parades. 
  • Participants will decorate houses two weeks before Mardi Gras, which is February 16 this year. 
  • Megan Joy Boudreaux, who first had the idea for these house floats, suggested people hire or buy from Carnival artists and suppliers who have lost work due to the parade cancellation. This has greatly impacted at least one artist — Dominic “Dom” Graves — who hosts classes related to float construction.
  • Artist and philanthropist Devin DeWulf made a crowdfunded lottery, raising enough money to put about 40 people to work on decorating over 11 houses. 

 

House floats in front of Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans, 2 February 2021

Mardi gras decoations outside a home in Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans, 2 February 2021 | 
Infrogmation of New Orleans

Discussion Questions: House Floats and Virtual Celebrations

  • What is Mardi Gras, and how is it usually celebrated in New Orleans?
  • Who started the idea for house floats?
  • Where is this ‘parade’ taking place?
  • When in Mardi Gras this year?
  • How have people been able to help those who lost work due to the parade cancelation?

Focus Question: Can you think of any artistic or celebratory traditions in your community that have been affected by the pandemic? What is a creative way you can think of to continue those traditions this year?

Media Literacy: In the article, there are pictures displayed of very large houses with extravagant decorations. Do you think it would’ve been important to hear from people where it’s not as easy to still celebrate the holiday in the way they’d like? How is it easier for some to make the most of their time in the pandemic?

 

House floats on Orleans Avenue, Mid-City New Orleans, 2 Feb 2021. | Infrogmation of New Orleans
 
Orleans Avenue, Mid-City New Orleans, 2 Feb 2021. | Infrogmation of New Orleans

Art Activity: Draw, paint or otherwise invent what your “house float” would look like if you were to make it part of a community parade.

  • What would you include to represent yourself and your family?
  • What would you include to represent your community and the ways it has adapted this past year?

Dig Deeper

  1. Use this resource to examine how groups of people have been affected differently throughout the pandemic.
  2. Check out this resource on how other arts programs have adapted to the pandemic.

 

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.

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