Pandemic-era Mardi Gras: No big crowds, but plenty of cake

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A subdued carnival season begins Wednesday after the coronavirus pandemic put an end to the balls and street parades that draw thousands of people to the city each year.

The Mardi Gras season always begins on January 6 and ends on Mardi Gras, which this year falls on February 16. .

The coronavirus has put an end to these great events. But that hasn’t stopped notoriously creative New Orleanians from finding socially distant ways to celebrate.

La Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc is a club that pays homage to the fallen French hero every year with a parade in the French Quarter to mark the official start of the carnival season. This year, the krewe is hosting a ‘Paintings of Joan of Arc’, where spectators will walk past various ‘tableaux’ – a French term for ‘living images’ – which will include stations of costumed revelers arguing as knights, sharpening their swords. and feast in a large fireplace with a roast pork in the background.

“Life as usual is gone so we had to look for different ways of doing things this year,” said Antoinette de Alteriis, one of the club’s captains.

The Phunny Phorty Phellows, a group that typically meet on January 6 to mark the start of the season with a costume party on a streetcar, are also changing their plans. Usually, crowds of people gather in the facility where the streetcar begins its journey to see the group leave, but this year people are invited to scatter along the streetcar route and watch instead.

But people can still eat cake – that is, royal cake. Sweet cakes, decorated with the official carnival colors (purple, green and gold), will not be eaten until January 6.

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Associated Press reporter Stacey Plaisance contributed to this report.

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