In answer to the question, “will there be a Mardi Gras next year,” the answer is – 100 percent, totally, absolutely, honest to goodness, yes. Am I positive? Bet your bottom dollar, yes. For there not to be a Mardi Gras, we will have to figure a way to nullify the 1582 Gregorian Calendar. That document clarified the date of Easter (which determines the date of Mardi Gras) as being the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernel Equinox. Mardi Gras is on a Tuesday 40 days (not counting Sundays) before. To cancel Mardi Gras, we have to remove either Gregory’s calendar or the full moon. Either would be way too much trouble.
(“Carnival” too is determined by the lunar calendar. It is the season that precedes the date of Mardi Gras.)
What folks really mean to ask is, will there be parades? That’s a whole different question, and neither the Gregorian calendar nor the moon can help find the answer.
Surprisingly, what might influence the answer is a parade that has nothing to do with the Carnival season but that looks and acts like it does – the Halloween- based Krewe of Boo.
Last Thursday, krewe officials and members of the city’s Mardi Gras advisory committee met to hear the mayor’s thoughts about whether the parades, which were cancelled this past Carnival, will return. She did not say “no”; but she did not say “yes.” What she did offer was a guarded “maybe” that leaned toward the positive side.
Among the attendees, even with their faces half-covered by masks, you could tell they were thinking the parades will happen.
But there are a couple of major issues. One is the fear of COVID-19 being carried into town by visitors, as happened during Carnival 2019. Cantrell frequently emphasized the economic joy but also health concerns from Carnival’s worldwide draw. Yet, unless we soon start telling the world that there will be parades, there might not be that many visitors anyway, at least not from a long distance. Those who fly in are already checked for vaccinations by the airlines. Hotels could do the same and then there are the restaurants. Hard to catch, however, will be those who drive in and stay with friends or family. Here is where we are going to need herd immunity to kick in.
And the other problem is workforce power. With the current labor shortages, the mayor expressed concern that there might be a scarcity of workers for sanitation and policing. In 2019, at least one krewe helped pay for extra police protection, but to put too much stress on the krewes which, by tradition and by city ordinance, are not allowed to be commercially sponsored, could result in fewer krewes.
Fortunately, Pope Gregory and the moon placed Mardi Gras on a relatively late date this coming season, March 1, so there will be more time to work things out. One krewe captain predicted to me that by the time of the parades there might no longer be masked mandates. That would be fine because there are other types of more colorful masks ready to be worn, including those of ghosts and witches.
Krewe of Boo, we’re pulling for you.
Have something to add to this story, or want to send a comment to Errol? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s books, “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” and “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2017 and 2013), are available at local bookstores and at book websites.
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