As we do in my household every year at this time, this past weekend we dismantled Christmas, stowed it in the attic, and hauled out Mardi Gras. This year more than ever we will make our home look like a purple, green and gold spaceship – only bigger, badder and brighter than usual. We will also add a theme, as opposed to just going with the usual over-the-top bright and shiny. Not sure what that theme will be just yet as we are in discussions with our neighbors, and we plan to do this in unison, turning our entire block into a, well, something.

I urge you to consider doing the same in your neighborhood. Efforts like this are springing up all over New Orleans as the collective realization has come that now, more than very, we must do what we can to celebrate and preserve this thing for which we are known best (in a very long list of things for which we are known). Otherwise, what will we do on the last Tuesday before Lent? Just go to work like everyone else in our troubled nation?

Uh, no.

Not a crafty or decorative type, you say?

On Dec. 4, Devon DeWulf, founder of the Krewe of Red Beans, announced the formation of “Hire A Mardi Gras Artist,” an initiative to employ out of work artisans to decorate homes and businesses for Mardi Gras and spread the joy in our city.

“Initially we thought $10,000 per project would cover the costs,” DeWulf said. “After completing the first house we realized it will cost more like $15,000 per project. So far we have raised $200,000, enough to fund 17 projects and we have created jobs for 30 to 35 Mardi Grs artists, hopefully with more to come!”

The goal behind of “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist,” a crowd-funding campaign, is to decorate 40 homes across the city with each installation creating an estimated eight jobs. Donating to the project, no matter the amount, will immediately enter the donor in a raffle to be chosen at random from among all donors wishing to have their homes or businesses decorated by professional artisans.

DeWulf said this egalitarian approach will serve to spread the decorated homes and businesses around d the city instead of seeing them concentrated in a few wealthy neighborhoods. Companies and homeowners can commission the decorating of a house outright by donating $15,000 online at

I am disappointed that no parades will roll though my Uptown neighborhood this year, but I am excited that Magazine Street, my neighborhood thoroughfare, will be the only place to purchase very limited edition keepsakes, clothing and decorations created by the Krewe of Red Beans‘ “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” initiative. The items went up for sale yesterday at 22 Magazine Street businesses. **See below the blog for a list.

“This initiative has created five jobs for out-of-work musicians,” DeWulf said. “They are working as supply chain delivery drivers to get the merchandise to stores through Mardi Gras Day (Feb. 16). We also rented the upstairs of Tipitina’s to serve as our merchandise warehouse.”

Two professionally decorated float houses will be located on Magazine Street: One at Mignon Faget, 13801 Magazine, the other at McEnery Realty, 4901 Magazine. They decorations will be up within a couple of weeks.

Also, announced in my neighborhood (lucky me!) yesterday, Executive Pastry Chef Maggie Scales of the Link Restaurant Group began several flavors and sizes of king cakes. Find both traditional king cake and French Galette des Rois, (two rounds of puff pastry filled with almond cream, topped with a small porcelain feve) at La Boulangerie. Find the traditional king cake and the famous “Elvis,” filled with peanut butter, banana and topped with house-cured bacon, marshmallow, and traditional Mardi Gras sprinkles at Cochon Butcher. In place of the traditional small plastic “baby,” the traditional king cake and the Elvis contain a petite pink pig as the Link Group’s signature token. The cakes will be available through Fat Tuesday (February 16), which is the day before the beginning of Lent.

Yesterday Bywater Bakery started selling a stellar selection of both sweet and savory king cakes. This year’s flavors: Sweet – Traditional, Chantilly, Boully (sic), Cheesecake, Azul Dulce Blueberry, Praline, Apple, Lemon cream; Savory- Crawfish, Boudin, and Spinach artichoke. Some flavors are available for shipping. Bywayer Bakery has partnered with the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, Music Cares, Howling Wolf, and the New Orleans Food Bank and will donate nearly 200 loaves of bread to these organizations each week.

Use the kickoff of our most famous season to celebrate the culture and the people you love. Spread a little joy. There are so many around you who need it.



**Participating businesses:

  • Audubon Institute/Audubon Zoo gift shop
  • The Bead Shop
  • Cole Pratt Gallery
  • CR Coffee Shop
  • Dark Garden
  • Dat Dog
  • Feet First
  • Fleurty Girl
  • Home Malone
  • Magazine Street Framing
  • Magic Box Toys
  • Magpie
  • Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing
  • Miss Smarty Pants
  • Mignon Faget
  • Nadeau, Furniture with a Soul
  • NOLA Flora
  • Pack Rat Shipping
  • Potsalot Pottery
  • Red Gravy
  • The Ruby Slipper Café




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DECORATING YOUR HOUSE FOR MARDI GRAS? Enter our sister publication New Orleans Magazine‘s Krewe of New Orleans Decoration Photo Contest and WIN BIG!!

Grand prize includes [ $1000 ] and a spotlight in the following New Orleans Magazine.

Click here to get more contest details and to enter!

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