NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Mac Cantrell started working on floats when he was 17 years old by helping his father put on all the old New Orleans Mardi Gras parades. But he says without a Mardi Gras sometime in 2021, he worries his business may not survive until 2022.
“I am going to put on 13 parades with no income for 12 months and it’s going to be very hard to withstand and I don’t see a government bailout coming for float builders,” Mac Cantrell said.
With the uncertainty of Mardi Gras and New Orleans and other areas already canceling parades, Cantrell says there needs to be some kind of Mardi Gras to sustain businesses like his, even if it’s outside of the carnival season.
“We can do it safely, and for people who feel afraid don’t come to the parade, it’s going to be a smaller crowd to begin with smaller than we’ve ever seen before,” Cantrell said.
“We’ve had businesses that have had a really rough year, musicians, and bars to say that we’re here and our spirit is still intact even if it’s a little later than February I think it’s important,” Jennifer Van Vrancken said.
Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken says they have been ramping up ongoing conversations with krewe leaders, Mardi Gras businesses, band leaders and others to figure out how to have Mardi Gras. At least at this time, she believes they can hold a safe Family Gras.
“We can get it, we can limit the number of people, we can socially distance like we’ve seen at the drive-in concert events, we can get lots of good local musicians back to work, so our goal is to really try and do Family Gras in the Carnival season,” Van Vrancken said.
The parish council will soon take up a measure to amend the requirements for krewes to allow for more flexibility and add more safety measures. Parades though, she says likely will not be held during carnival season.
“We’re going to say you’ve got to wear a COVID mask over your nose and mouth. We’re going to say you have to wear gloves, so it’s sort of an old school thing to bring back but if you’re handling beads you’re going to have to have cotton, polyester or latex gloves if you’re parade participants,” Van Vrancken said.
“What makes us special is our culture, it’s our musical culture, it’s that joy of life we incorporate into everything, I think we don’t want to lose that.”
Cantrell says as long as there is a Mardi Gras in Jefferson Parish, there’s hope, hope that everyone desperately needs.
“It’s like after Katrina when we were devastated and needed something to bring the public back something to look forward to,” Cantrell said.
Van Vrancken says a working plan is to hold parades in May though that’s subject to change.
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