NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — There’s a certain message New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell has for folks about Mardi Gras 2021 “Not cancelled, just different,” Cantrell told members of the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council during a meeting Thursday evening.
What will be different is still being finalized. The city is asking Mardi Gras krewes to come up with modified versions of parades and balls with public health in mind, then bring those plans and ideas to the city within 30 days.
“I just hope that we make every effort to make this happen,” said Bobby Hjortsberg who’s the captain of the Krewe of Freret.
“We would be taking extreme precautions on every level from how we work with ridders and how we work with people watching the parades and so it could be completely different,” said Hjortsberg.
Recommendations from the advisory council propose revelers wear face masks, be tested for COVID and not over socialize, especially with strangers. Krewe members will need to have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of riding, undergo temperature and symptom screenings and be six feet apart on floats.
“While we can make recommendations to the public, it is very difficult for us to know that they will actually adhere to them,” said Dr. Takeisha Davis, president of The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale and member of the advisory council’s committee on public health.
The talk of moving forward with Mardi Gras comes as New Orleans and Orleans Parish see decreases in new cases of COVID, but that’s still a big concern considering how many people would show up.
“In the absence of an available and effective vaccine there is simply no way for us to eliminate the risk of COVID-19 spreading during Mardi Gras,” said Davis.
City finances and furloughs also create a challenge. According to the mayor, they city is expected to spend more than $7.5 million for the 2021 Mardi Gras season to hopefully pull in indirect revenue of $8.7 million. Whatever happens, Cantrell says a new way is the only way Mardi Gras can happen.
“We want to observe religious, culture and social traditions in a new way. You will have a say in what it looks like,” said Cantrell.
Final decisions are expected to be announced in early December, after the next meeting. So far three krewes, Adonis, Oshun and NOMTOC, have announced they will not be part of Mardi Gras next year, which the mayor says will have no impact on their standing as a krewe.