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Mardi Gras Parades Canceled in New Orleans in 2021 Due to Pandemic

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The mayor of New Orleans announced Tuesday that Mardi Gras parades will not be permitted in New Orleans’ annual festival in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell says the holiday is definitely not canceled.

“I want to be very clear. Mardi Gras 2021 is not canceled. It is going to look different. The mayor has been very consistent about saying that at every stage,” said Beau Tidwell, communications director for Mayor LaToya Cantrell, during a Tuesday press conference.

According to the City of New Orleans, Mardi Gras is to be celebrated on Feb. 16, 2021 as a religious holiday and therefore cannot be canceled.

“So while we certainly want to move forward and find ways that we can celebrate and we can mark this occasion, we have to do it safely. We have 10 more deaths in the last two weeks. The positivity rate doubled in the last week,” said Tidwell.

The City of New Orleans says it will allow visitors and have both Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street open. All visitors must adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines at all times.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, draws around 1.4 million people into the Big Easy, and specifically the city’s historic French Quarter, every year. While the festival has strayed from its religious roots, the celebrations are generally treated as indulgences before the Christian observance of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, dozens of parade organizations, or “Krewes,” hold their celebrations across the city.

And New Orleans, which has become synonymous with the annual event, takes months to prepare for it, with its colorful purple, gold and green colored floats and lively costumes that draw tourists from around the globe. Indeed, a report released earlier this year from WalletHub found that New Orleans rakes in more than $1 billion during Mardi Gras.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005, New Orleans’ first Mardi Gras celebration saw 700,000 people, according to statistics reported by WTVA. And the parades have been ongoing since the festival’s inception Feb. 24, 1857. Since then, Mardi Gras has only been canceled 13 times during wartimes.

As coronavirus cases continue to surge, a number of states are closing down areas of commerce they previously reopened following lockdowns in March and April. And some states keeping businesses open for economic purposes have imposed restrictions like mask-wearing mandates, capacity limits and limited hours of operation.