With Mardi Gras parades canceled, New Orleans residents are turning their homes into extravagant 'floats'

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Melissa Wiley
·5 min read
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New Orleans house float diptych v2 dino bernie
With traditional Mardi Gras activities canceled due to COVID-19, New Orleanians are decorating their homes and businesses to resemble Mardi Gras floats. Erika Goldring/Getty Images
  • New Orleans' famed Mardi Gras parades have been canceled due to COVID-19.

  • With parades canceled, thousands of residents are decorating their homes to resemble parade floats.

  • Standout designs include dinosaurs in top hats and Bernie Sanders wearing his now-famous mittens.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

New Orleans' famous Mardi Gras parades are canceled this year due to COVID-19, but that hasn't stopped residents from celebrating.

Mardi Gras New Orleans float 2020
The Bacchagator, a signature float in the 2020 Krewe of Bacchus parade, rolls down Napoleon Avenue on February 23, 2020 in New Orleans. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Resourceful residents are instead decorating their homes and businesses to resemble parade floats.

New Orleans 'House Float' 2021
A New Orleans home is decorated in honor of former New Orleans resident and jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain on January 24, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Mardi Gras is the period of "feasting and fun" that begins on January 6 and ends on Fat Tuesday, according to the official New Orleans Mardi Gras website.

Jesters house flat New Orleans Mardi Gras
A New Orleans home is decorated with oversized Mardi Gras jesters on January 24, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Source: Mardi Gras New Orleans

With outdoor gatherings limited and dancing virtually prohibited under phases one and two of the city's reopening, New Orleans locals dreamed up the 2021 "house float."

House floats sign New Orleans Mardi Gras 2021
New Orleans rapper Big Freedia, named Grand Marshal of the Krewe of House Floats 2021, poses for a photo in front of the "Queen of Bounce" House on January 27, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Source: City of New Orleans

The day New Orleans announced that parades would be canceled, resident Megan Boudreaux tweeted "It's decided. We're doing this. Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbors walking by."

Bordeaux initially meant the comment as a joke, she told the Associated Press, but then began to really like the idea and started a Facebook group called "Krewe of the House Floats."

The group has over 14,000 followers at the time of writing. Bordeaux also created an official website for the "krewe," a New Orleans term for a Mardi Gras social organization.

Now, thousands of house floats have popped up across the city.

Jester house float New Orleans Mardi Gras 2021
A New Orleans home is decorated with a Mardi Gras jester statute on January 27, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Source: Krewe of House Floats

Some house floats include traditional New Orleans motifs like this jazz trio ...

New Orleans jazz trio house float Mardis Gras 2021
A New Orleans home is decorated with a jazz trio motif on February 1, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

... or honor New Orleans celebrities, like the late Leah Chase, a legendary Creole chef.

Chef Leah Chase New Orleans Mardi Gras House Float 2021
A New Orleans home is decorated in honor of Chef Leah Chase on January 28, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Read more: A husband and wife in the Hudson Valley convert vintage Airstreams into tiny homes that they sell for $100,000 and name after famous women

Others have created fantastical worlds. Dinosaurs wearing top hats took over one front lawn ...

New Orleans House Float
A New Orleans home is decorated to celebrate Dino Gras on January 24, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

... circus animals claimed another ...

New Orleans Mardi Gras circus house float 2021
A New Orleans home is decorated with a circus theme on January 24, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

... and unicorns turned this New Orleans staircase into a runway.

Unicorns house floats New Orleans Mardi Gras 2021
A New Orleans home is decorated with a unicorn motif on February 2, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Some buildings address politics, like this one that placed a Donald Trump effigy on its roof.

Donald Trump effigy New Orleans Mardi Gras house floats 2021
A Donald Trump effigy sits on top of a New Orleans building on January 30, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

The viral Inauguration Day meme of Bernie Sanders even made it to New Orleans.

Bernie Sanders New Orleans House Float Mardi Gras 2021
A house is decorated with a figure of Senator Bernie Sanders on January 30, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Read more: The grumpy Bernie Sanders meme is the best one to come out of the inauguration

This interpretation of Bernie looking cold while wearing oversized mittens has him on a bench next to a sign that says "Let the BERN times roll," a play on the New Orleans saying "Let the good times roll."

Bernie New Orleans
A Bernie Sanders figure sits outside the Skeleton House on January 28, 2021 in New Orleans. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

The spoofs don't end there. One set of residents transformed their house into a beach shack with a sign that reads "Wasted away again in Coronaville," a COVID-19 take on Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville."

New Orleans Mardi Gras house float 2021
A New Orleans house is decorated like a beach shack on January 15, 2021. Janet McConnaughey/AP Photo

This Dolly Parton-themed house float features a sign that says "vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiine," a play on Parton's 1974 song "Jolene." The cutout of Parton shows the singer holding a vaccine syringe.

Dolly Parton
A New Orleans house is decorated in honor of Dolly Parton on January 30, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Read more: A new rooftop bar inspired by Dolly Parton has hot pink umbrellas, plush couches, and a chicken-wire sculpture of the country music legend — take a look inside

New Orleanians may not be able to yell "throw me somethin' mister" to floats passing this year in hopes of obtaining a coveted beaded necklace, but they sure know how to celebrate given the circumstances.

Mardi Gras House Float New Orleans 2021
A house is decorated with the motif 'Throw Me Somethin' Mister' on January 30, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

"I know a lot of folks are sad and disappointed that Mardi Gras cannot be normal this year, but I am hoping that Krewe of House Floats can be a way for folks to channel their creative energy, make something positive out of a bad situation, and have something to look forward to in 2021," Boudreaux wrote on Krewe of House Floats' website.

New Orleans Mardi Gras house float 2021
A New Orleans home is decorated with a 1960s theme of peace and love on February 3, 2021. Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Source: Krewe of House Floats

Read more: Disappointing photos show what it's really like to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans

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