No parades will be gracing Magazine Street in the Mardi Gras season that begins Wednesday, but the Uptown corridor will still have a place of honor during Carnival 2021.
Magazine Street will be the only place to purchase merchandise for the Krewe of Red Beans‘ “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” project, the krewe announced. “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” is an effort to get the laid-off Mardi Gras artists back to work while brightening the season for all New Orleanians.
As an extension of this initiative, the krewe has partnered with the Magazine Street Merchants Association to sell special products that celebrate its “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” project. Krewe merchandise for sale includes T-shirts, hoodies and flags that relate to the campaign.
More than 20 businesses on Magazine Street will participate. The participating stores will all be identified with a Krewe of Red Beans flag or “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” signage from Jan. 6 to Mardi Gras on Feb. 16.
“We are also excited to support local businesses — and the two professionally designed float houses that are coming to Magazine Street also,” said Krewe of Red Beans founder Devin DeWulf.
The first two will be located at Mignon Faget at 3801 Magazine and McEnery Residential at 4901 Magazine, at the corner of Upperline. They should be available to view by mid-January.
The krewe is also renting out a section of Tipitina’s music club as part of this initiative. Tipitina’s will become part of the krewe’s “local supply chain,” DeWulf said, along with local printers and artists who have created the themed merchandise.
In addition, six jobs will be created for musicians who will work as couriers to resupply the Magazine Street shops as inventory needs to be replenished.
“We encourage New Orleanians to support the ‘Hire a Mardi Gras Artist’ initiative and to shop local. Make Small Business Saturday every day, and help us create jobs,” DeWulf said.
The merchandise will be available at the following businesses:
• Audubon Institute/Audubon Zoo gift shop
• The Bead Shop
• Cole Pratt Gallery
• CR Coffee Shop
• Dark Garden
• Dat Dog
• Feet First
• Fleurty Girl
• Home Malone
• Magazine Street Framing
• Magic Box Toys
• Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing
• Miss Smarty Pants
• Mignon Faget
• Nadeau, Furniture with a Soul
• NOLA Flora
• Pack Rat Shipping
• Potsalot Pottery
• Red Gravy
• The Ruby Slipper Café
In addition to the “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” project, the krewe has been active in the time of COVID-19. The krewe created two campaigns — Feed the Front Line and Feed the Second Line — to aid gig workers, hospital workers, local restaurants and New Orleans’ culture bearers.
Feed the Front Line NOLA was a $1.2 million campaign to deliver food to health care workers on the front line of the COVID crisis. The largest such operation in the nation, it helped keep restaurants afloat while giving unemployed musicians jobs delivering the food.
From March 13 to May 3, , according to the program’s website, they delivered more than 100,000 meals to workers caring for COVID patients in local hospitals.
Feed the Front Line has given way to Feed the Second Line. This program, according to a krewe press release, has created $270,000 worth of gig work for the city’s culture creators — such as musicians, Black masking Indians and Babydolls. To date, it has purchased more than $100,000 of groceries for 150 culture-bearer elders.
To raise money for this initiative, the krewe is holding a six-concert fundraising event featuring the bands that perform with the parades on Lundi Gras. The music is live-streamed on Facebook and will be turned into an album. The album will be broadcast on Lundi Gras, Feb. 15, at 2 p.m. on WHIV-102.3 FM.
The krewe also conducted Mask Up Sweepstakes from mid-July to Aug. 3, promoting mask-wearing with a $10,000 prize. This effort increased mask-wearing in four target areas in New Orleans where COVID-19 rates were the highest.
In November, the Krewe of Red Beans canceled its parades for Lundi Gras 2021 to avoid spreading the virus. The parades include the Krewe of Red Beans; the Dead Beans; and its newest parade, Brazilian-themed Feijao.