Yardi Gras stories: ‘Pure Imagination’ fuels house floats in Broadmoor and Fontainebleau

 

Last year ago, the unimaginable happened: February passed in New Orleans with no Carnival parades. With parades cancelled due to Covid, there were no massive floats rolling the street, no masses of revelers standing elbow-to-elbow and hollering to have some beads thrown their way. 

So New Orleanians had to use their own imagination and come up with a safer way to celebrate. What they came up with was Yardi Gras: a new tradition where revelers decorated their own homes as elaborate floats. This year, Mardi Gras is back — but Yardi Gras survives as well, along with the spirit of imagination and ingenuity it represents. While there are fewer homes participating in the Krewe of House Floats this year, there’s still plenty of creativity on display, as seen in the neighborhoods of Broadmoor and Fontainebleau.

Yardi Gras stories: University area house floats celebrate ‘Les Bons Temps’

 

When three smaller subkrewes of the Krewe of House Floats —University, Freret and St. Charles Avenue — melded into one, an anything-goes theme evolved, which in turn became “Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler,” said subkrewe captain Jenna Rockett. With no constraints to follow, krewe members improvised their individual whims. The Bergers of State Street decided to lean into their name by turning their house into a burger joint. The family’s “State Street Soda Shoppe” house float serves up a giant balcony burger, fries, a milkshake and an ice cream sundae. It’s a theme that delights the Bergers’ two young daughters, Lillian and Grace.

Rolling today and tonight: Pontchartrain, Choctaw, Freret, Sparta, Pygmalion

Saturday is very full parade day, with five krewes and their accompanying bands and dancers keeping the Uptown route lively from early afternoon until late evening. The National Weather Service promises a mostly sunny day with highs near 60 degrees. In the evening, clear skies and a low around 46 degrees are expected. The route

All parades will follow the same abbreviated route:
Start: Napoleon Avenue and Prytania Street
Proceed down Napoleon
Right on St. Charles Avenue
Proceed on St.

Rolling tonight: Oshun, Cleopatra and Alla kick off Carnival on the Uptown route

The Uptown parade season begins tonight with the krewes of Oshun, Cleopatra and Alla on the St. Charles Avenue route. It will be a special anniversary ride for two of the krewes. Oshun is celebrating its 25th anniversary. And Alla, one of the city’s oldest krewes, will close out the night of parades on its 90th anniversary.

Viewpoint: What’s your plan to stay safe during Carnival season?

With several hundred thousand people about to descend on the streets of New Orleans, each of us should make a personal commitment to avoid becoming a statistic during Carnival season. After all, Covid-19 and crime are the overarching themes of this year’s Mardi Gras. Although parade goers might not see floats or throws touting either, they definitely will be lurking in the background. 

Some people – including the majority of the Louisiana Legislature – think that masks and social distancing are a thing of the past and that Covid-19 is no longer serious or life-threatening to the majority of the population. Tell that to Ed Robinson Jr., founder of L&R Security, whose employees dressed in bright yellow T-shirts are a welcoming presence at Jazz Fest and other major events. Robinson’s wife, Octavia Robinson, a retired New Orleans police officer who had been vaccinated and boosted, just died from Covid.

Yardi Gras stories: Audubon-Riverside neighborhood has a sense of déjà vu

In its second year, the Audubon-Riverside subkrewe of House Floats selected the theme “Déjà Vu in 2022.” It has a double meaning. First, it’s here we are again — still with the pandemic. The Krewe of House Floats’ overall theme for the 2022 Carnival season, “Vaccinate, Decorate, Celebrate,” is also a nod to the enduring pandemic. 

Audubon-Riverside’s theme has a second meaning, recognizing that many residents plan to re-use most or all of their house float decorations from last year. One such resident is Sarena Teng, whose house float on Laurel Street at Napoleon has its own Instagram account (@queenofbouncehouse). Her Queen of Bounce House uses the same Big Freedia figure from 2021, but added a twist, based on the KoHF theme “Vaccinate, Decorate, Celebrate.”

“It is still and always will be the Queen of Bounce House, but this year, it’s ‘Big Freedia Saves the World’ against viral invaders,” Teng said. 

Playing off the popular 1980s “Space Invaders” video game, she made coronavirus germs out of lime green paper lanterns with hot-glued red glittery pompoms to look like spike proteins. Her Big Freedia has a giant vaccine syringe with a light-up laser gun that shoots down the germs. Nighttime viewers can see the vaccine explode in a fireball of green flashing lights.

Krewe of Iris to debut ‘Flower Power’ sustainable throws

The signature hand-decorated sunglasses will fly from the Krewe of Iris parade on Feb. 26, and so will something new in Iris throws. The city’s oldest and largest all-female Mardi Gras krewe will debut a line of sustainable throws in its 2022 parade. Iris riders will toss throws provided by Grounds Krewe, a local nonprofit dedicated to Carnival sustainability. The city estimates that sanitation workers collect at least 150 tons of garbage during a typical parade season, a number that Grounds Krewe aims to reduce.