At this point we’ve all celebrated various holidays and milestones a bit differently than in years past. Birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas have been socially distanced, Zoomed or even cancelled. Carnival, however, is like Christmas in that you cannot cancel it. We will celebrate Carnival this year as we always do – it will just look a little different.
For children, these changes and adjustments have been constant and, in some ways, overwhelming. However, there are ways we can keep the Carnival spirit alive in our homes not just by eating King Cake and making shoe-box floats, but by embracing new ideas and creating new traditions.
For Megan Boudreaux, a resident of Algiers Point, this type of innovation began by a simple idea of decorating her house to look like a Mardi Gras float in the hopes that her neighbors would do the same. What began as a simple Facebook group has ballooned into a metro-wide initiative to make Mardi Gras on our front porches. The Krewe of House Floats currently has over 7,000 members, and similar “krewes” have popped up all over the metro area. There have been suggestions for common throws for neighborhoods, and while the hope is that it will help artists who would normally be employed making real floats, there’s ample opportunity to involve children – and perhaps their classmates – in the endeavor.
Not only will we be walking by home “floats” in our neighborhood, the Krewe of Bacchus’s decision to hold a “virtual” parade via an app proves there are ways to use technology to bring about the Carnival spirit. Small shoebox parades on Zoom or socially distanced among friends can be easily organized, and even organized posts on Facebook and Instagram can create community among groups.
If you want your Mardi Gras floats to be of the edible variety, there’s also the option of creating a gingerbread float, but instead of using gingerbread, you can simply add cinnamon to sugar cookie mix and make it taste closer to King Cake (baking perhaps a bit longer to have a tougher, more structural cookie). Floats can be easily crafted with four rectangles and a base, and then placed on larger marshmallows to look like the wheels. Your local party supply or craft store will have a plethora purple, green and gold (or yellow) candy, and you can easily use any leftover cookie dough to make signature cookie throws – you may want to source cookie cutters in the shape of shoes, sunglasses or coconuts ahead of time.
Besides Carnival crafts that are edible, now is also the time to re-visit your parade route food and even invent some new things. One can easily re-create sidewalk or neutral ground festiveness with some Popeye’s and a boom box on the front porch. Meanwhile, this may be the perfect year to try your hand at making a King Cake from scratch (Gracious Bakery is selling a King Cake kit with almost everything you need) or even trying King-Cake like desserts. For example, brown butter and cinnamon added to rice crispie treats that are then frosted are an easy and kid friendly way to re-invent a Carnival classic.
No matter how you decide to celebrate Carnival this year, know that, while it may be a little different, it will never be something you can cancel because as Al Johnson tells us in his song, “it’s Carnival time, and everybody’s having fun.”
➺ Just the Facts
Krewe of House Floats Facebook Group: Facebook.com/groups/KreweOfHouseFloats