Mardi Gras: New Orleans hosts first full-dress parade in two years

Festivities are back on in the city with Covid-19 hospital admissions and case numbers falling

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Revellers decked out in traditional purple, green and gold came out to party on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans' first full-dress Mardi Gras since 2020.

The fun includes back-to-back parades across the city and marches through the French Quarter and beyond, with masks against Covid-19 required only in indoor public spaces.

Parade routes are shorter than usual because there aren't enough police for the standard ones, even with officers working 12-hour shifts as they always do on Mardi Gras and the days leading up to the end of the Carnival season.

But with Covid-19 hospital admissions and case numbers falling worldwide and 92 per cent of the city's adults at least partly vaccinated, parades and other festivities are back on after a season without them.

Costumed partiers gathered before dawn to see the North Side Skull & Bone Gang wake up the city's Treme neighbourhood, reminding everyone of their mortality. From then on, it was all “let the good times roll”, with celebrations in almost every corner of the city, leading up to a ceremonial clearing of Bourbon Street at midnight.

Along Jackson Avenue in the city's Central City neighbourhood, crowds were bundled in blankets as they waited for the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club's parade, which started decades ago as a mockery of white festivities, with black float riders in blackface and grass skirts.

People wore sequinned jackets, children played games and speakers on the back of a lorry boomed with the sound of the Mardi Gras Mambo.

The return of Carnival season has been a much-needed boon for business in New Orleans, where famed restaurants and music venues were restricted or shut for months.

Parades were cancelled last year because officials realised that tightly packed crowds in 2020 had created a superspreader event, making the city an early Southern hotspot for Covid-19. Instead, people decorated their houses to look like floats as a way to keep the Carnival spirit alive.

Updated: March 02, 2022, 1:10 AM
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