Krewe of House Floats Rolls On
by Leah Draffen
SINCE OUR HOUSES have been the safest place to be in 2020, it only makes sense to decorate them as Mardi Gras floats in 2021.
When the parades were canceled, New Orleanian Megan Boudreaux joked about the idea. “I said that I would just decorate my house and throw stuff at my neighbors, but the more I thought about it the more I thought it would actually be something others might want to do,” Megan says. So, she took to Facebook creating the group, Krewe of House Floats.
One month to the day of starting the group, there were 8,000 members and counting. Megan’s idea bloomed quickly into an official krewe with over 1,100 registered members. Volunteers and sub-krewes spent countless hours forming an LLC, building a website and official Krewe of House Floats maps, and organizing with the City of New Orleans. “We have 39 sub-krewes, mostly within the greater New Orleans area, but also expanding into the rest of the state and including expats in the rest of the world.” From Algiers Point to the Northshore, neighborhoods have joined together to establish themes, plans and more.
House decorating began on King’s Day…and for some, before that. Many homeowners enlisting the help of artists, float builders and culture bearers who have been greatly impacted by the parade cancellations. Megan put together a resource list and Facebook group that interested parties could access for whatever they needed including throws. When asked about this very different season, Inez Pierre of Crescent City Artist and Pierre Parade Productions says, “I’m overjoyed and overwhelmed at the same time. We’re New Orleans natives chasing time to save the culture of New Orleans and our communities. I’m excited to see how next year’s Mardi Gras season will look like. We’re not stopping with porch floats…”
Professional float builder, Caroline Thomas, was inspired by the idea of house floats and created the Hire a Mardi Gras Artist project (hireamardigrasartist.com) partnering with fellow Mardi Gras artist, Dana Buehler, and the Krewe of Red Beans. “It just amazes me that you can grow up going to Mardi Gras your whole life and these people are kind of invisible. There are these legends within my field that I know about. There are these incredible float painters, prop builders that nobody on the street is aware of. We build floats in New Orleans unlike anywhere else in the world,” says Caroline.
“It’s our own regional art form and it should be treasured the same way we treasure our music, our food and everything else.” From the start of their ideas, spreading Carnival joy and creating jobs has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Dana adds: “This season, New Orleans has the unique opportunity to see Mardi gras artistry in a different, stationary way. We get the chance to see it without others clamoring for beads around us or navigating a multitude of other carnival distractions. We can slow down and appreciate our local talent, as well as the hard work that goes into parade building.”
Krewe of Red Beans founder Devin De Wolf says, “We have a track record of helping the community during COVID. We think creatively and want nothing more than creating jobs for the community. That is how we can get through this challenging time.”
“If the most Krewe of House Floats accomplishes is giving folks a way to celebrate Mardi Gras safely then I will be thrilled,” Megan says. “But it quickly became apparent at the beginning of planning that connecting folks to local artists and businesses is a large part of the Krewe’s impact. Sub-krewe captains have also started organizing within their neighborhoods to support local food pantries and community fridges. Krewe-wide we are preparing to launch a giving fund with Greater New Orleans Foundation to raise money for community partners such as CultureAID NOLA and Grace at the Greenlight.”
On February 1, the offical map will be public so that everyone can tour different neighborhoods at their own pace. The KoHF will “parade at home” on Mardi Gras Day by dancing on their porches and throwing things to their neighbors.
The decision to not have specific days for specific neighborhoods was in an effort to keep crowds and traffic at bay. The website says: “If you want to host a porch concert or distribute throws to your neighbors on any other day, that is at your own discretion and will not be advertised or promoted by KoHF. We are committed to doing our part to see everyone happy and healthy and back out on the parade route in 2022.”
Speaking of 2022, Megan says: “I have had many people express their hope that KoHF will continue beyond Mardi Gras 2021 and I think there is potential for that, but at this moment I am just focusing on getting to February 16!”