New storefront floats in full bloom on Magazine Street

 

The New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts and Sosusu Boutique on Magazine Street have storefront floats that add to the Carnival spirit on Magazine Street. Both of these professional creations light up at night. 

In more than 40 years of being in the same building at 5256 Magazine St., never did the nonprofit New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts imagine that they would be turned into a house float. The school located on the route of many Uptown parades usually has a viewing stand. This year, school officials had planned to turn it into a fundraising event for the institution and charge admission. 

But the pandemic and canceled parades changed all that. “We wanted to have our installation look like a real float,” said school President Dian Winingder about the creation entitled “Gogh Mardi Gras.”

It is of course an homage to Vincent Van Gogh (they call the tractor driver “Vincent”) and, Winingder said, his imagery is easy to recognize and simple enough to make into float props and decorations.

Yardi Gras Stories: The Lower Garden District turns the music up and gets down

“Here’s your Elvis outfit,” said the wife, tossing a Vegas-era Elvis Presley jumpsuit and a pompadour black wig with sideburns at her husband.  

“But … uh … I don’t even like Elvis,” piped the husband from his armchair. “Put it on,” came the wife’s command. “We’re going to a parade!” 

That scene took place seven years ago, shortly after Illinois native and raconteur Terri Bird and her husband, Kassinger Valente, relocated to New Orleans.

Yardi Gras Stories: Carrollton-Hollygrove homes are as proud, and as colorful, as peacocks

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.

Viewpoint: Sealing off the French Quarter won’t stop COVID-19 infections during Carnival

Mayor LaToya Cantrell is caught between a rock and a hard spot.  

By her own admission, the citizens and businesses of New Orleans have done a pretty good job of following the city’s ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions. Tourists, on the other hand, come to New Orleans to party — and party they will regardless of any “rules” they consider arbitrary and capricious. 

The sheer number of visitors traveling to the Crescent City has continued to increase over the past few months – especially on the weekends. Unfortunately, some do not wear masks. Tourism leaders expect that Mardi Gras weekend will create the highest hotel occupancy since last March and lead to additional infections. Although Dr. Anthony Fauci is telling Americans “to lay low and cool it” instead of attending or holding Super Bowl parties this weekend, expecting people not to flock to New Orleans for Mardi Gras is unrealistic.

Yardi Gras Stories: House floats bring neighbors together in Central City

Mardi Gras parades may be cancelled, but that hasn’t stopped residents of Central City from turning their neighborhood into a festive Wonderland. Central City is one of the many neighborhoods participating in Yardi Gras, an alternative to Mardi Gras parades where homeowners decorate their own houses as floats. On the 3200 block of Dryades, for example, residents are working together to turn four homes into “Alice in Wonderland”-themed house floats. 

Friends and neighbors came together on Saturday to start putting up whimsical decorations. One house was the Cheshire Cat, and the others were the Queen of Hearts, the Caterpillar and the Mad Hatter. The neighbors shared pizza and art supplies as they decorated, and music kept everyone bouncing. 

“We have all embraced it, and we have had a lovely time,” said Shirley Madison, the Queen of Hearts.

Storefront floats celebrate the Margarita and bid good riddance to 2020

Two more storefront floats have appeared along Magazine Street this week – at Del Fuego Taquería and McEnery Residential. One is part of the Krewe of House Floats subkrewe for the Audubon Riverside neighborhood, and the other joined up with the Krewe of Read Beans’ “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” project. 

Chef Dave Wright at Del Fuego Taquería summed up their decision to make a storefront float this way: “We’re all really going to miss the parades this year, so when the Krewe of House Floats was formed, we jumped on the idea of celebrating Mardi Gras in our neighborhood. Our ‘Krewe of House Margarita’ is where it’s at!” 

The Del Fuego staff used the Margarita as their inspiration for the DIY float. “We all collectively came up with creative ways to incorporate the ingredients we use to make our fresh-squeezed house Margaritas without breaking the bank,” Wright said. The homemade float flowers’ leaves are painted lime wedges, and the parasols are glittered citrus wheels.