Let the good times roll with these Fat Tuesday facts.
The City of New Orleans announced that Mardi Gras parades will not be allowed in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The guidelines are very clear that you can’t have a gathering that large,” said Beau Tidwell, communications director for the City of New Orleans, at a press conference on Tuesday.
Under current guidelines, outdoor gatherings in the city are limited to 150 people.
At the start of the pandemic in March, New Orleans COVID-19 numbers spiked and the city became one of the early hot spots in the United States.
Many experts blamed the outbreak on the city’s Carnival celebration for drawing more than 1 million visitors to New Orleans, which contributed to the spread of the virus. The Carnival season ended last year on Feb. 25. The city’s first presumptive case of COVID-19 was March 9.
Although New Orleans faced criticism after the fact for holding Mardi Gras parades, Mayor LaToya Cantrell defended the decision. In late February, only a handful of COVID-19 infections had been confirmed in the United States. Large events continued throughout the country, and President Donald Trump assured the nation in a tweet at that time that “the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”
Carnival is a celebration with deep roots in the Christian tradition, offering a season of excess before Lent. Carnival begins on Jan. 6, or Twelfth Night, and concludes on Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The date of Fat Tuesday varies. In 2021, it falls on Feb. 16.
Parades, where masked riders toss beads and trinkets to the crowds, are the most public part of Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. The season also includes sharing king cakes, attending formal balls, dressing up in homemade costumes and celebrating with small walking groups like Skull and Bone Gang.
“Mardi Gras 2021 is not canceled. It’s going to look different,” Tidwell said.
The city is seeking ideas from krewes, which put on the large parades, and the general public for how Carnival celebrations can be modified in 2021 to maintain social distancing.
Jefferson Parish, the suburb just outside New Orleans, is still evaluating whether it will allow Mardi Gras parades in 2021.
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