NEW ORLEANS —
As I take note of how many among us are lamenting the cancellation of parades in the city for the season, I wonder if our expectations were perhaps unrealistic.
Looking back at our collective experiences during the pandemic, I see that we’ve hunkered down and abided by or acquiesced to stay at home orders and mask mandates, and we effectively lowered the curve enough for us to take pride.
We were one of the most infected cities in the world shortly after Mardi Gras 2020, which was largely blamed for the early outbreak. We took action and stayed home until we had it under better control.
Time and time again, the good people of southeast Louisiana seemed to have handled 2020 better than Americans elsewhere.
When racial justice protests erupted around the country, the area’s protestors and law enforcement seemed to handle things with much less violence.
State and local governments also worked together with limited resources as we’ve collectively experienced an unprecedented hurricane season, sending resources to southwest Louisiana to help in the wake of Hurricanes Laura and Delta, and picking up the pieces here from Hurricane Zeta.
We also worked together at the start of the pandemic to marshal resources and support the medical community.
But the work isn’t done.
We still have to heal from some political divisions and the pandemic. As we continue to make progress in trying to bring people together in spirit while keeping them apart in the fight against COVID-19, we’re all motivated by the drive to do the right thing.
This year has taken from many of us our livelihood, our businesses, our loved ones, our life-long friends and neighbors, our homes, and also our way of life.
I know that the thought of having to take on all these sacrifices and now seeing officials take away parades— is heartbreaking.
But we must be strong and not mourn what has yet to die.
I urge you all to see the threat of losing Mardi Gras parades not as a tyrannical measure of overprotective local governments, but as a challenge we can overcome by celebrating in a new and different way.
We can find other ways to embrace one another and be merry as we eat copious amounts of King Cake. Despite it being not much of a show without the crowds, perhaps we can enjoy Mardi Gras in a different way.
Perhaps this year, Krewes can double down on civic engagement and ‘parade’ toward a common goal: A race to help our city get healthy.
Our krewes’ creativity knows no bounds, and we witness this every year. We continue to be surprised by their ingenuity, their ability to mobilize their members, to raise money for charity, and to create the most lavish costumes — representing our culture well enough to keep us proud.