For the first time since 1979, the city of New Orleans will cancel its world-famous Mardi Gras parades in 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that all parades in the 2021 Mardi Gras celebration coming in February had been scrapped.
“Parades of any kind will not be permitted this year because large gatherings have proven to be super-spreader events of the COVID-19 virus,” Cantrell wrote on the city’s website.
But, despite cancelled parades, New Orleans is trying to salvage its biggest annual event and won’t call it “cancelled.”
A message posted Tuesday on the city’s Twitter account showed an illustration with the slogan, “Mardi Gras is different, not cancelled.”
“With COVID-19 spreading, we need to modify carnival season so it’s safe for everyone,” the city said.
It’s unclear how Mardi Gras will play out without its centerpiece: the iconic Fat Tuesday parades that attract an estimated 1.4 million visitors annually.
Dozens of parades are normally held in Orleans Parish alone, including carnival processions held in the days leading up to Mardi Gras, which falls on February 16 this year.
New Orleans previously only cancelled parades during the Civil War, civil unrest in 1875, World War I, World War II and a 1979 police strike.
Social clubs, called Krewes, will still be allowed to host their Mardi Gras balls, but they will be required to adhere to social-distancing guidelines, and the events will be invitation-only, meaning members of the public can’t attend, according to the city’s website. Krewes normally band together to build parade floats.
The Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street entertainment districts in the city’s French Quarter will be open, but the partying will be constrained by Covid-19 restrictions, including restaurant and bar capacity limits, limitations to business hours, mandated mask-wearing and a six-foot distancing requirement. House parties will be subject to similar restrictions.