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2 catholic sisters create the 'Women of Light' house float to inspire everyone during these dark times

The float’s symbolism comes from Nano Nagle, who carried a lantern during very dark times in Ireland in the 1780s.

NEW ORLEANS — A lantern now lights the way to South Saratoga Street. House Float “Women of Light” was installed Friday in Central City at the home of two Sisters of the Presentation from Dubuque, Iowa.

Sisters Mary Lou Specha and Julie Marsh set and met a goal in December to raise 10-thousand dollars and participate in the Krewe of Red Beans’ Hire A Mardi Gras Artist Project.

Six weeks later, their shotgun transformed into Mardi Gras Magic.

“We’re so excited that our lantern is 10 foot tall! And we even got a picture in it before they sealed it up,” said Sister Mary Lou Specha. 

The float’s symbolism comes from Nano Nagle, who carried a lantern during very dark times in Ireland in the 1780s. It’s part of the meaning of the Sisters of the Presentation.

“She was known as the lady of the lantern or woman of light, and so it was a no-brainer for us to say in this pandemic time, what do we need? And we need a lot of lanterns,” said Sister Mary Lou.

With a lot of hard work by the artists and installation team, Nagle’s name, and the names of 15 other historical and inspiring women, are on display.

You may recognize most of them, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Rosa Parks, and Breonna Taylor.

And passersby can add a dove sticker to the piece by writing down who inspires them and adding it to the wall.

“We really are just encouraging people to be light for others during this very difficult days,” said Sister Mary Lou.

You can check out the Women of Light Float in the 1700 block of South Saratoga.

Per Krewe of Red Beans, the float included work by Demi Francois, Daniel Fuselier, Lauren Barron (Shivers), Mark Perelli, and Caroline Thomas. It was installed by Joey Mercer, Travis Keene, Shivers, and Chelsea Kamm. 

The Krewe of Red Beans tells us it has raised 300-thousand dollars and employed 49 Mardi Gras artists.

A full map of the floats is coming soon.

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