Mayor’s Office Addresses Concerns About Cancellation of Carnival Parades
NEW ORLEANS – Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s communications director Beau Tidwell spoke to the media today to address the community’s shock at learning that the city officially has banned 2021 Mardi Gras parades due to coronavirus health concerns.
The news went viral this morning after the city posted the information on its official website with little fanfare. Leaders of several Carnival krewes expressed frustration with the lack of communication beforehand although others have expressed support for the city’s plans.
Tidwell said the update shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s been paying attention to 2021 Carnival plans and the latest COVID-19 trends.
“Let me be clear: Mardi Gras 2021 is not cancelled but it’s going to look different,” he said. “The Mayor has been very clear about saying that at every stage.”
As of Nov. 16, there have been a total of 14,439 coronavirus cases and 605 deaths in Orleans Parish. Of most concern, there have been nearly 1,000 new cases and 10 deaths in the last two weeks. The city is averaging around 60 new cases per day and the positivity rate is 2.2%.
Tidwell said the rise in cases is likely the result of community spread at parties and gatherings of various sizes.
“Orleans has been a little bit of an island when you look at the heat maps but now we’re catching up with what we’re seeing statewide and across the country,” he said.
With this in mind, Tidwell said that the 2021 Carnival has to change.
“We know what we celebrate next year will not look like any other year,” he said. “We also know, however, that Mardi Gras is a holiday and an event that has tremendous religious, cultural, artistic and even psychic significance for our people and our city. To be clear, the mayor has neither the power nor the desire to cancel Mardi Gras. It’s a holiday and it’s going to happen one way or another.”
Tidwell said that, under the current guidelines, gatherings of more than 250 people are not permitted and the COVID-19 trends don’t look promising for big changes by February. So the city has asked krewes and the public to submit suggestions for safe ways to celebrate. The deadline for the public to make suggestions is Dec. 4. Krewes have until Dec. 5.
James J. Reiss, III, an official in the Rex organization and the co-chairman of the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council, said Rex is primarily concerned with safety.
“We are very aware of our city’s health guidelines for Phase 3.3 and what is on our city’s website regarding parades in 2021,” he said. “We understand the seriousness of the pandemic, and we fully support our city’s fight against COVID-19. Rex and our fellow parading krewes are working now to determine definitive plans for Mardi Gras 2021 and anticipate being able to report to Mayor Cantrell and our city’s citizens in the coming days.”