Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy chats about what this year's celebration might look like. Mardi Gras and the city of New Orleans have dealt with their fair share of blows: with the 1979 police strike and Hurricane Katrina in 2004, but the city has always remained a vibrant cultural epicenter.
Publish Date: Feb 12, 2021
it's hard. But again, we've We've survived other things. Uh and I know we're gonna come back. It's just how quickly and how strong can we do it? And I don't think 22 is gonna be 100% recovery. It can't be. It wasn't after Katrina. It took a good three years to come back. My, I think my most interesting, Uh, what are most interested? Interested in what's gonna happen in the French Quarter on fat? Tuesday, 1979 when there was no police strike, It's It was the most mellow crowd ever. People there enjoying their own Mardi Gras hugging and kissing and drinking. Can't do that this time. Not legally eso or even not wisely in terms of health. But, you know, people are gonna be out there that, you know you're not gonna take away my Mardi Gras, so I just hope people will be safe as they celebrate. Uh, nobody's trying to take away your monogrammed, but we've got to be smart. But it's gonna be interesting to watch. And there's been some creative again. Nothing can take the place of all of the parades and pageantry. Um, I wonder if they'll be unofficial costume contests and that sort of thing could, you know, except we're not supposed to gather a number. How do you do that? Socially distancing e Think One of the things that's gained a little bit attraction is this idea of house floats where people decorate red beans is doing that. We've got a story that no magazine and it's a wonderful on. That's a very philanthropic group anyway. But this thing's puts people toe work, unemployed, float builders. It gives people a chance to have their own house decorated are professionals, and it's it's a no alternative. Its's not a substitute. You know, I've had some of my purest friends at a Mardi Gras. They shouldn't do that. That's the sacrifice. No, it's not. People have to express themselves, and we're very creative people in this town, and I don't think we've heard the last of O. G. I didn't know that was gonna happen. You watch. There's gonna be some neat things happening. I think that's likely to become a permanent part of carnival as well, because again, it is a way for individuals. Maybe they aren't in a carnival crew have no interest in that they could decorate their homes. And as you mentioned, I think people have become attuned to There's this whole cadre of artisans in the city who depend on Carnival to make their living. And now that's gone, at least temporarily. And so it would shock me if this doesn't become a permanent way to supplement their income and have more people involved. It made it absolutely the alternative. Cruise really bring a lot to the table. And, you know, after the 79 police strike, the 1980 monogram people really appreciated what they missed in 17. You know, you don't know what you missed. It's going well, and I think the things same thing is gonna happen next year. That year after Katrina was so special, it was, uh, it was a very much scaled down celebration, but it was just very emotional, and we had to show the world that we were back and we did it for ourselves, basically. And I think you might have said that I at least attribute this quote to you often that carnival Mardi Gras particularly, is the greatest free show on Earth that we throw for ourselves. Yeah, it just so happens that other people coming and we're glad they dio leave their pocketbooks. Attorney some of the money in it. But that that was a really And I think we have talked about this for such an emotional Mardi Gras. And we took a lot of criticism nation mind for How can you fools be celebrating with when they're blue tarps on roofs and people dead, you know, and way showed him and we needed it for us. And I'll never forget that People holding up signs to the float runners thank you instead of throw me something. Oh, man, it just breaks your heart. But it meant a lot. It was healing in a way. It was so early. Yeah, it was six months after the storm, we went out there doing our thing, and then we went back to work. But but it was important for us to do it to show. And the way had 1500 credential media in in town, uh, Mardi Gras weekend basically to see what we were doing And while we're doing it and I did a lot of interviews and most of the reporters just didn't get it, you know, until a few, That state after Monaco, I said, Oh, yeah. Now, now we see this was cool. Was that Wow, that's what I've been trying to tell you, you know? And it did have a local field, unlike any Mardi Gras going back to the strike. I was a young young boy, but that had a different field because it was so different, right? It was outside of Orleans Parish and all that. But in many respects, 2006 as an adult had that feel to me, it was special. There weren't a ton of tourists. There were a lot of there were a lot of hugs and a lot of tears on the road. And, you know, and, you know, 79. There was a lot of anger anger at the police at the Teamsters union. Uh, you know, this The city was kind of torn apart by that, and but Katrina was differently. I mean, there was sadness, but not anger. And, uh, so I think you're similar kind of thing will happen. Now, we're gonna get over this and come back, but, uh, the wounds are deep and and, uh, fresh, and it's it's not gonna go away quickly. I think we gonna lose a couple of crews that were financially teetering. Anyway, the big boys will be fine. Uh, but people are finding other things to spend spend their money on.