As New Orleans officially enters Carnival, the city rolls into a season of unchartered territory for an unprecedented, coronavirus-era Mardi Gras.
However, in a resilient city like New Orleans, the lack of parades can’t kill the Carnival spirit. Many krewes and neighbors started taking creativity into their own hands to develop alternative ways to celebrate for 2021.
“This Carnival season we will see the creativity of the Mardi Gras Community in a different fashion as groups and individuals find new ways to celebrate and express themselves,” Carnival historian Arthur Hardy said.
Hardy who has also published his annual Mardi Gras Guide for the past 45 years also plans to move forward even as Carnival revelers and parades won’t fill the streets. His guide is now in stores in Metairie, Jefferson, Mid-City, CBD and Mandeville.
“For our part, we decided to publish our annual magazine even though parades have been cancelled, proving once again that Carnival in New Orleans is more than floats,” Hardy said.
As one of the few Carnival traditions still rolling during the unprecedented COVID-era, the Phunny Phorty Phellows’ 40th ride on the St. Charles streetcar line will take place with adjustments on Twelfth Night.
What follows in the days and weeks after showcases a city determined to let the good times roll.
Here’s a list of parade alternatives for the 2021 Carnival season during the coronavirus-era planned for the greater New Orleans metro area.
This list is continuously being updated as more krewes announce plans. Check back for updates as we get them.
Krewe of Joan of Arc
Instead of its usual French Quarter walking procession, canceled due to COVID-19, the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc will produce a drive-by parade at Behrman Memorial Park in Algiers from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 6.
The drive-by event, officially dubbed Tableaux de Jeanne d’Arc, will bring many of those major components from the parade to this socially-distanced celebration of the 15th-century heroine and Catholic martyr.
Joan of Arc co-captain Antoinette de Alteriis describes the event as an “open-air theater” where cars will roll by different scenes depicting Joan of Arc’s story modified from the parade.
Tickets for the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc tableaux drive-by performance cost $10 via Eventbrite.
Phunny Phorty Phellows
The Phunny Phorty Phellows announced plans to kick off Carnival season with its annual historic streetcar ride on Twelfth Night, Jan. 6.
As one of the few Carnival traditions still rolling during the unprecedented COVID-era, the krewe’s 40th ride on the St. Charles streetcar line will take place with adjustments, the krewe captain said.
Similar to previous year, the costumed and masked krewe will assemble at the Willow Street Barn for the 7 p.m. ride. However, this year, riders will be socially-distanced and limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the public is invited to see the ride, the only way to view the ride is along the streetcar route while masked and physically distant from others.
The krewe’s website, PhunnyPhortyPhellows.com, includes a route map. The krewe will travel down South Carrollton Avenue to St. Charles, down to Canal Street via Carondelet Street to Canal and turn back on to St. Charles to return to the uptown route back to car barn.
Funky Uptown Krewe
The Funky Uptown Krewe, which has followed the Phunny Phorty Phellows’ ride on the St. Charles streetcar line for the past two years, announced it canceled its 2021 ride in favor of a scavenger hunt on Jan. 6.
The krewe will create a socially-distanced scavenger hunt along the St. Charles streetcar line on Twelfth Night where the community can hunt to collect their signature throw, hand-decorated bedazzled vinyl records.
Krewe of Chewbacchus
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus plans to replace its traditional trek through the Marigny and French Quarter with an alternative celebration on Jan. 23.
Instead of the usual stroll through crowded streets, Chewbacchus’ devoted subkrewes will be stationed at homes and businesses around the city of New Orleans.
The krewe says spectators can visit these different locations and collect handmade throws from the different subkrewes, while marveling at costumes and contraptions in a socially-distanced manner. Within the week leading up to the event, Chewbacchus will release an online PDF brochure called “The Guide,” which will include a map of the different subkrewe locations.
In addition, the Krewe of Chewbacchus will also offer a “multimedia side quest” for fans to score “rare, one-of-a-kind artifacts.”
Even though the krewe won’t parade in its usual form, they still announced a theme for the upcoming Carnival season titled “Chewbacchus 11: Don’t Panic! The Hitchhikers Guide to the New Reality — Volume One.”
Chewbacchus says it will release more details in upcoming weeks. Fans can subscribe to their mailing list via their website, Chewbacchus.org for the latest information.
Krewe du Vieux
Krewe du Vieux plans to make satirical installations and participate in community and charity support projects in lieu of a parade, they announced.
“Krewe du Vieux 2021 will be a cornucopia of different activities that deliver our usual biting satire and irreverent commentary, while also recognizing and honoring the courage and perseverance that it takes to get our city through these challenging times,” the krewe said in the announcement.
So far, the krewe hasn’t divulged much about those plans, aside from an initiative to support local musicians through the Feed the Second Line program.
The irreverent krewe said it will publish the location of installations in their newspaper, the Monde de Merde.
Krewe of Bacchus
Carnival revelers can experience a virtual parade from the Krewe of Bacchus. The krewe plans to launch the THROW ME SOMETHING BACCHUS! App.
The Bacchus parade app will allow users to catch beads from their couches instead of the parade route on iPhone or Android devices. Then, people can create an avatar and trade with friends.
The app will also have pre-recorded parade bands, and past celebrity kings will make appearances on the app.
Bacchus will allow users to pick up prizes curbside at the den, some of them are a lot bigger than what parade-goers are used to catching.
The app is available to download on Twelfth Night, but you can make catches every Sunday leading up to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, when the krewe was scheduled to roll.
Krewe of House Floats
The new Krewe of House Floats rolls forward with its plans for a safe alternative to the traditional 2021 Carnival season due to the cancellation of parades caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Created by New Orleans resident Megan Boudreaux, the Krewe of House Floats began as an idea posted to social media and rapidly grew into an organization with more than 7,500 members.
Nearly 40 neighborhood subkrewes have formed throughout the greater New Orleans region, including Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Terrebonne parishes. Neighbors all across the area plan to decorate their houses like floats and turn their streets into drive-by parade routes.
Krewe of Red Beans’ Hire a Mardi Gras Artist
The Krewe of Red Beans launched an initative called “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” to create jobs for recently laid-off float builders and artisans.
The goal is for the community to crowdfund $10,000 per house for 40 professionally made constructions that will transform a house to delight the public in New Orleans.
“Mardi Gras float artists have spent years tirelessly working behind the scenes to bring Carnival to the streets. Now it’s time to return the favor and help keep these workers employed during a very different type of Mardi Gras. And hopefully bring some joy and magic to the public while we are at it,” artist Caroline Thomas said.
Houses and businesses will be chosen at random from our donors. Companies and individuals can also commission a house.
The Krewe of Red Beads also partners with Magazine Street merchants as an extension of the initiative.
Starting on New Orleans’ traditional Twelfth night, more than a dozen shops along Magazine Street will sell Krewe of Red Beans and Carnival-centric Mardi Gras art and merchandise.
Participating stores will all be identified with a Krewe of Red Beans flag or “Hire A Mardi Gras Artist” signage.
In November, the Krewe of Red Beans canceled all its parades in 2021 to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus. In an effort to keep both the marching members and the audiences safe, the krewe’s three parades will not march on Lundi Gras, February 15, 2021. This includes the Krewe of Red Beans; the Dead Beans parade; and its newest parade, Brazilian-themed Feijao.
Contact us here if your krewe has updates for Mardi Gras 2021.
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