Creativity isn’t canceled.
In the Carrollton-Hollygrove neighborhood, the houses are especially colorful. The Carrollton-Hollygrove subkrewe’s theme is “Nesting in Place” — a nod to the neighborhood bird sanctuary that resident peacocks call home.
Courtney Bullock, one of the subkrewe’s co-captains explains how the Krewe of House Floats idea came together.
“It all blew up in a week,” Bullock said. “There was a division of neighborhoods, and I knew that people would want to decorate their houses — we just had to do something.”
Bullock’s house, adorned with musical instruments and a piano banner, has a musical theme. “The title of my house float is ‘Lay That Funky Music,’” she said. “My house is an art installation of how I feel — I worry about our musicians all the time.”
Bullock moved to New Orleans in 1991, with the dream of being a float builder and she makes costumes; creativity is in her blood.
“I love doing creative things, so this is right up my alley,” she said. “This is saving me, right now.”
As far as house float rules — there are none. Bullock just wants everyone to have a good time. “People don’t have to stick to the theme, as long as they’re having fun,” she said. “This is how New Orleans is; we all needed this.”
Bullock hopes that the house float tradition continues for years to come. “It makes me think of everything that Mardi Gras is,” she said. “I think that this is the beginning of something beautiful.”
Co-captain Isolde Butler was on board as soon as KoHF founder Megan Boudreaux shared the idea. Butler, who marches in Chewbacchus and rides in King Arthur, knew that she had to something to celebrate the Carnival season. She was happy to take the reins as a Carrollton-Hollygrove sub-krewe co-captain.
“Megan and I knew each other from roller derby, so I was happy to help out,” Butler said. “We quickly decided to work through the logistics, and everything was divided by neighborhood. I knew it would be a great way for the neighborhoods to come together.”
Butler’s house float title is “Egg-cellence” and her home adorned with birds, trees, paper-mache eggs, glitter and fringe. It was a complete do-it-yourself project.
“I enjoyed taking classes and learning craft tricks from local Mardi Gras artists,” she said. “It’s all been about the Mardi Gras spirit and I’ve really loved seeing what other people have been doing with their houses.”
When neighbor Emily Rosenzweig was coming up with her theme, she followed her heart.
“My theme is ‘Snacking in Place,’” Rosenzweig said. “I know that my heart is with food and, I knew to feel meaningful to me, it had to be food related.”
Rosenzweig’s house is decorated with a large container of fries, popcorn, lollipops, ice cream and paintings of other snacks. Her fig tree is decked with bags of chips. Everything was hand-made by Rosenzweig and her husband.
She explained, “My husband and I love doing projects. We built everything ourselves with corrugated plastic, Styrofoam spray, foam insulation and cardboard. We accepted soda can donations, so that we could make a garland. We even made the lollipops out of pool noodles.”
The project took the couple weeks and “lots of painting” to get everything perfect.
The house float project is bringing neighbors together and, for Rosenzweig, it’s all worth it.
“We’ll be outside, and our neighbors will pass by and chat with us,” she said. “Half the fun is people walking by and saying hello.”
Julia Parsons was missing decorating goblets for her ride in King Arthur, and saw the Krewe of House Floats as the perfect opportunity to get creative.
“I wanted something upbeat and positive,” Parsons said. “I came up with the theme, ‘Garden of Good’, and included lots of trees and flowers.”
Parsons took to YouTube and started crafting flowers out of 87 cent table cloths and she built a peacock out of chicken wire, air-dry clay, real peacock feathers and adorned the creation in glitter.
Like many other neighbors, Parsons hopes that the house floats are not just a one-off experience. “I hope that this is a tradition that continues,” she said.
One special memento that has been created to commemorate the Carrollton-Hollygrove house floats is glass medallions designed by artist Teri Walker. The medallion depicts a peacock wrapped around a New Orleans-style house and can be hung as an ornament. The piece is sure to become a keepsake among the Carrollton-Hollygrove neighbors.
Because New Orleans folks love combining a good time and a good cause, Krewe of House Floats is accepting donations to a giving campaign with the goal of raising $100,000 for those affected by COVID-19 restrictions and Mardi Gras event cancellations. Culture Aid NOLA and Grace at the Greenlight are the first partners for the initiative.
“The magic of Carnival, while often billed as the ‘Greatest Free Show on Earth,’ isn’t possible without float artisans, service industry workers, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians and other culture bearers,”a Krewe of House Floats statement reads.
If you want to explore the Krewe of House floats in Carrollton-Hollygrove and beyond, check out the official Krewe of House Floats map here.