Floats With Addresses

Krewe of House Floats returns with a dependable Mardi Gras flair


Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home.

There is something both exhilarating and terrifying about a month loaded with events. Valentine’s Day, Tet Fest to celebrate Vietnamese New Year, Rock ‘n’ Roll Run, and all of the Mardi Gras parades and celebrations that precede actual Mardi Gras day are scheduled and we will all wait, no longer capable of holding our breath, to see which of them will come to fruition. Living with the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years has taught most of us to balance hope with a practical backup plan. In this vein, the Krewe of House Floats, founded in response to a completely cancelled 2021 Mardi Gras parade season, is carrying the banner forward one address at a time into 2022.

For locals and visitors, the Krewe of House Floats provided us with the sense of wonder, the artistry, the whimsy and the satire that define how New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras. Those with the wherewithal engaged mega-float fabricators like Kern Studios and Royal Artists Inc. to build fantastical beasts for their lawns and balconies. The DIYers decoupaged and hot glued their way into Instagram posts and amazement. We were able to play “Jeopardy,” visit Dolly Parton, honor our front-line workers and even receive Jell-O shots via creative PVC pipes for socially distanced revelry.

The Mardi Gras Indians have guided our collective ethos for years with “we won’t bow down, don’t know how,” and Krewe of House Floats is something we can depend on to connect with our cultural identity.

“Even before we entered a period of uncertainty that Mardi Gras 2022 could be parade-less, we were already planning to continue,” said Krewe of House Floats founder and New Orleans resident Megan Boudreaux in a statement. “In a city that doesn’t let anything rain on its parade, it’s truly humbling to see how an idea that I posted to social media… rapidly grew into an organization with thousands of members. It’s our hope to continue this annual tradition for many years to come. We are well-placed to help New Orleanians celebrate Mardi Gras safely.”

More than 1,000 homes have registered this year and their locations will be designed into an online map similar to what was produced last year. It is anticipated there will be additional unofficial participants who missed the Jan. 6 registration deadline but who will nonetheless flaunt their creativity and opinions.

In 2021, the Krewe of House Floats Grand Marshal was Big Freedia and following in her footsteps this year is novelist and native New Orleanian Maurice Carlos Ruffin.

Ruffin is the author of “We Cast a Shadow,” which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Open Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His collection of short stories, “The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You,” is a New York Times Editor’s Choice and a finalist for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. This exemplar New Orleanian is also the recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction, and has been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, the Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, and “Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas.” I, for one, desperately hope he writes about his experience as the Grand Marshal through his surrealistic lens.

Krewe of House Floats exists far beyond the foam and spray paint. Intrinsic to the new organization’s goals is the desire to give back to the community. In 2021, they were able to raise $30,000 through a partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation. This year they plan to continue to focus their philanthropic efforts on those most affected by the cancellation of parades, including but not limited to float builders and culture bearers. Their new fiscal sponsor is the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with the New Orleans music and cultural community to preserve and nurture our culture. Boudreaux hopes this year they will increase the donations to raise at least $50,000.

In 2021 word spread nationally via media outlets including NPR and The New York Times about the Krewe of House Floats, showing the world our dedication to riffing on tradition and keeping our sense of humor through even the hardest of times. That the Krewe of House Floats is continuing in 2022, even with (hopefully) parades planned to roll, signals to visitors that even our oldest traditions can evolve and make those walking tours even more engaging in the weeks preceding Mardi Gras. I hope this does indeed become a new annual aspect of Mardi Gras, spreading the joy throughout every neighborhood.

Krewe of House Floats has a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website with multiple links to resources for those who still want to participate. The map is scheduled to go live on the website on Feb. 1 so people will have plenty of time to plan their walking, biking, and driving routes. Learn more at kreweofhousefloats.org.