New Orleans already has canceled Mardi Gras parades for 2021, with parades in Lake Charles, Point Coupee, Crowley, Youngsville, Morgan City, Baton Rouge's Spanish Town and even Mobile, Louisiana Mardi Gras' tame Alabama cousin, canceled as well.
Most of Acadiana's most-anticipated carnival balls, including Rio and Apollo, were canceled last fall.
But so far, there haven't been many announcements from Acadiana's larger krewes and organizations, and in Lafayette, anyway, the local government plans to stay quiet on the issue - for now.
"We have no intention of canceling Mardi Gras," said Jamie Angelle, spokesman for the Guillory administration. "Lafayette Consolidated Government doesn't put on Mardi Gras, the various associations do. So we're giving them the opportunity to make that decision for their various organizations. If they decide to move forward, they'll have to do so with whatever state restrictions are in place."
We asked if permits are required for parades. He said that the krewes work with the police department on their permits, and he assumes that ensuring adherence to state mandates would be part of the permitting process, "but the Mayor-President has no intention of canceling anything at this point."
The current state order forbids outdoor events of more than 150 people unless strict six-foot distancing is maintained. It also orders all fairs, festivals, carnivals and amusement rides be closed. That order expires January 13. Mardi Gras is February 16, but parades usually start in January - especially when Mardi Gras is that early in February. The governor usually announces any changes a few days before the new order takes effect.
KATC reached out to the State Fire Marshal's Office to see if Gov. John Bel Edwards' latest emergency proclamation places any restrictions on parades. According to a SFM spokesperson, the governor’s proclamation does not address parades, therefore, there are no guidelines for them to be conducted safely.
Section 2E of 209 JBE 2020 reads:
Crowd sizes are limited to no more than 25% capacity as set by the State Fire Marshal with a maximum 150 people in any single outdoor space where individuals will be close proximity to one another and unable to maintain strict social distancing of six feet apart from individuals who are not immediate household members.
Angelle acknowledges that COVID data changes, and he can't predict the future.
"We don't want to pre-emptively pull the trigger on anything. Things could change by that time, but at this time, no decision has been made," he said. "It's something that is talked about. We take it week by week. We're trying to leave that to them (the krewes) to make those decisions, but we're still looking at it. We look at it week by week."
Lafayette's renegade walking krewe, Krewe de Canailles, already has announced a new-fangled version of Mardi Gras called "Cruise de Canailles." They're encouraging members to decorate their homes, and a map of locations will be made available so carnival-goers can see those house floats. To read about it, visit their Facebook page here. There's a similar effort underway in New Orleans.
We reached out to the Greater Southwest Mardi Gras Association and the Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Inc., but haven't heard back. Several krewes we spoke with said they're waiting to hear what mandates might come from the state, and will have meetings soon to decide what they will do.
We've also reached out to several of the Courir de Mardi Gras organizations to see what their plans are. Church Point has not made a decision yet. Mamou hasn't either. Eunice has canceled Mardi Gras downtown, but the Courir will still take place:
The Tee-Mamou Courir, held in Iota, posted this on their website:
"The Tee Mamou Iota Mardi Gras Board is planning to have the 2021 festival in its entirety, including food & craft booths, along with bands. A final decision will be made in mid January 2021. You can also refer to our Facebook page for continuing updates."
Gueydan will hold its Mardi Gras festivities, with Le Krewe Du Le Originales Et Les Enfants' events beginning Friday, January 29. Find more information here.