Southern Decadence organizers cancel 2021 events, New Orleans mayor’s office says

Published: Aug. 21, 2021 at 1:37 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Organizers of the Southern Decadence New Orleans festival have canceled this year’s major events requiring city permits, including the annual parade through the French Quarter and block party on Rampart Street, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office said Saturday (Aug. 21).

“As of (Friday), Southern Decadence canceled the parade, tasting, Bourbon Extravaganza and block party on Rampart Street,” Cantrell spokesman John Lawson wrote in an email in response to a WVUE-Fox 8 query.

The decision made Decadence the latest in a long line of major New Orleans cultural and entertainment festivals prompted to cancel or significantly alter planned 2021 events as a result of the latest surge in coronavirus cases.

Southern Decadence, which bills itself as New Orleans’ largest gay event, has grown since 1972 into a massively popular gathering that concludes over Labor Day Weekend. This year’s celebration had been set for Sept. 2-6. Those dates still were featured Saturday on the event’s official website, though the detailed schedule of events posted there remained those from 2019.

Organizers of Southern Decadence did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But Cantrell’s office applauded the decision.

“As we have recently seen with events that are known to attract large crowds, organizers of the traditional Southern Decadence events have also decided to cancel their events this year due to the health and safety concerns posed by the current surge in COVID cases,” the spokesman said. “The safety of all people should be everyone’s top priority, so we believe the organizers made the right call. And we look forward to all events returning next year, including the celebration of Southern Decadence’s 50th Anniversary.”

Other festivals affected this year by the continued Covid-19 pandemic include the city’s canceled 2021 Carnival events, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival, the BUKU: Planet B festival, Voodoo Fest and the Gretna Heritage Festival. Annual events such as White Linen Night, Dirty Linen Night, the Red Dress Run and San Fermin in Nueva Orleans also were scrapped, at least officially.

Many Decadence participants posting on social media Saturday expressed an expectation that hundreds of people still would follow through on travel plans to visit New Orleans for Labor Day weekend. Others were advising the cancelation of such travel plans, warning of Louisiana’s high infection numbers, lower-than-average vaccination rate and the city’s recent mandate requiring proof of vaccinations or recent negative Covid-19 tests to enter bars and restaurants.

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