Parades are canceled this year, but have you no fear. Freret held a vote on a theme for house floats. They picked a theme based on Seuss, let creativity loose, and let everyone know: The theme’s “Oh, the Places You Can’t Go!”
The Freret neighborhood has become a colorful storybook as it takes on a Seussian theme for Yardi Gras, a safe alternative to Mardi Gras parades where residents decorate their own houses as floats. Imagination abounds in houses decorated in the spirit of beloved children’s books.
When given lemons, “leave it to this city to make some lemonade and put vodka in it,” said Liz Cooke, a resident of the Freret neighborhood and the owner of Lionheart Prints on Magazine Street. Cooke came up with the idea for the theme because, simply, “I can’t wait to go places.”
“I’m used to traveling every month for business or just life, and I’ve just staying put like I’m supposed to,” she said.
The Garden District, bordered by the Uptown parade route on St. Charles Avenue, is a neighborhood that parties during Carnival time. The neighborhood’s Krewe of House Floats theme, “Garden Party,” reflects their spirit.
“One of the best parts of living in our amazing neighborhood is the access to so many magical Mardi Gras parades and the spirit of the season,” Garden District subkrewe Captain Meghan Caye Turner said. “When I heard the concept of Krewe of House Floats, I knew it was important to keep the spirit alive in our neighborhood, while supporting local artists and shops.”
The subkrewe of the Garden District has fewer than 20 houses registered on the map that rolled out on the KoHF website on Monday (Feb. 1), but there are more that didn’t make it to the official map.
One striking creation is in the 1200 block of Harmony Street, where neon artist Nate Sheaffer has created a magical “Krewe of Garden Party” covered with his custom designed neon lights.
Sheaffer moved to New Orleans right after Mardi Gras 2020.
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.
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.
The iconic song “The House of the Rising Sun” comes to mind when you learn the theme of the Audubon Riverside subkrewe of the Krewe of House Floats. “There Is a House in New Orleans” is the theme, and many houses are already wowing passers-by (and drivers-by).
Audubon Riverside has 170 official houses that will appear on the map that will roll out on the KoHF website on Feb. 1. The subkrewe’s captain, Courtney Guidry, saw some chatter about “house floats” around Thanksgiving and posted a question on whether her neighborhood was going to be included. With that, Admiral Megan Boudreaux asked if she wanted to serve as the area captain.
From its seeds in an offhand remark founder Megan Boudreaux posted on Twitter, Krewe of House Floats has quickly grown into a superkrewe, with about 11,800 members in 40 subkrewes across the metro area. All are devoted to keeping the Carnival spirit alive and providing support for locals affected by the pandemic. Throughout the season, Uptown Messenger will be visiting with neighborhood KoHF subkrewes across Uptown to see how they’re doing Yardi Gras.
The Krewe of House Floats’ neighborhood theme “Channel Surfing” makes for good viewing in the Irish Channel.
Co-captain Lindsay Grissom came up with the theme. “We hope that it gives everyone the creative room to decorate however they want, since there are so many TV options out there,” Grissom said. “People are also free to decorate without using that theme — we’re just hoping for some Mardi Gras spirit in the Channel.”
Her co-captain Autumn Town got involved in this project when Admiral Megan Boudreaux first came up with the idea and was looking for subkrewe captains.
There was dancing and live music on Friday (Jan. 15) to unveil the third house float of the Krewe of Red Beans’ effort to put laid-off Mardi Gras artists to work. The theme for the Lower Garden District house float is “Acadiana Hayride,” and it features portraits of Cajun and zydeco musicians, dancing couples and of course a horse. The latter seems to block the entrance to the house. “We just squeeze in around it,” laughed homeowner Michael Burke.
When homeowner Stacey Burke donated to the Krewe of Red Beans’ “Hire A Mardi Gras Artist” crowdfunding site, she was doing it to support out-of-work Mardi Gras artists who lost their livelihoods with canceled parades.