Changes for the 2021 Mardi Gras

In mid November, as global death rates, hospitalizations, and cases of COVID-19 exposure continued to rise frantically high, the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, announced that the iconic, world renowned festival of Mardi Gras would feature no parades or mass gatherings this coming year. Sparking a social media firestorm, thousands of journalists and everyday users alike lamented as they cried the news that the holiday was “cancelled” entirely; however, Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans, stated during a press conference following the grim announcement that the celebrations would simply have to be different this year.
With the recent update from the city, preceding the alteration of this year’s Mardi Gras festivities, that the community had entered the red category of the COVID-19 threat level, quantifying an ‘official outbreak’ of the disease, measures had to be taken to ensure the safety of citizens not only native to the famous Louisiana city, but of the world. Thousands of people travel from around the globe every year to partake in the celebration, acting as a lively audience to the grand floats of the Mardi Gras parades; donned in colorful costumes and beads, they gather in massive crowds to eat, drink, dance, and party the February holiday away.
However, along with all the horrible things we know and continue to learn about COVID-19, one thing is for sure: large social gatherings, especially ones in which hundreds of thousands of people are screaming and dancing and cheering, act essentially as COVID-19 exposure and contraction festivals. The rampant exchange of aerosols and saliva particles within the air and between those within the crowds could be devastating to not only the city of New Orleans, or the state of Lousianna, but the world.
Citing the fact that Mardi Gras is, at its roots, a religious holiday, Mayor Catrell assured citizens that he can in no way simply cancel the day altogether, nor does he even wish to do such a thing; people are encouraged to celebrate the day however they like, as long as they follow the proper social distancing guidelines and quarantine legislation in place, and within their homes, of course. So along with so many other annual events of the fated year of 2020, Mardi Gras is not, and will not, be cancelled… just – different.