The Fat Tuesday celebrations are back. Mardi Gras 2022 has been given the green light to move ahead as planned. 

This year’s Mardi Gras may be the best one yet. In addition to traditional parades and festivities, the city is keeping the House Floats 2022 alive. While last year’s beautifully decorated House Floats kept the spirit of Mardi Gras alive, the canceled celebrations were a blow to locals and visitors alike.

A look back at Mardi Gras’ history shows the celebration is never without an element of danger. Finding a balance between over-regulation and support for the carefree jubilance has been an enduring tradition. 

What Visitors Should Know About COVID Restrictions

Unwilling to let the festivities become another example of “what not to do” during the pandemic, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has issued a host of covid-preventing measures. Mardi Gras 2020 was linked to nearly 50,000 coronavirus cases and is commonly referenced as a “super spreader” event. 

According to findings from Scripps Research:

  • Mardi Gras 2020 was the driving force behind one of the “worst early outbreaks” of the pandemic
  • At least 50,000 cases of the coronavirus can be linked to a single infected person from Texas

The events of Mardi Gras 2020 have been the prime source of information for scientists to examine how one large-scale event can create a viral epidemic when “no restrictions are in place.”

Mayor Cantrell is attempting to off-set the potential for another significant outbreak with common-sense safety protocols:

  • For anyone 5-years-old and up, proof of vaccination is required for any event, outside or inside, and to gain entry at all indoor establishments 
  • For those who have declined to be vaccinated, Mayor Cantrell has allowed individuals to show proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours.
  • Masks are required for indoor establishments

COVID death rates are continuing to rise despite the declining Omicron cases. 

Nevertheless, in the spirit of Carnival, New Orleans is open at 100% capacity, and the Mardi Gras Parade Krewes are ready with their throws.

Where in New Orleans Can You Get Tested for Covid? 

The city of New Orleans is offering numerous ways to be tested for COVID-19. The health department, National Guard, CORE response, and others are offering mobile testing to overwhelmed neighborhoods.

New Orleans is offering testing days at prominent locations. Several pharmacies and Urgent Cares are offering testing by appointment.

For any unvaccinated travelers planning to stay longer than two days, plan to take another COVID-19 test to remain compliant with the 72-hour ordinance.

Mardi Gras Endures by Balancing Over-regulations and Keeping the Exuberance Alive

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is one of the world’s largest celebrations, but it is not without a history of tragedy:

  • Zulu and the Coconut:

The Krewe Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club was officially founded in 1909

The Zulu’s signature throw is the highly demanded painted coconut. The tradition of throwing coconuts during the parade goes back to the early 1900s. 

In the early years of the club, glass beads were too expensive. The Zulu instead chose to hand out coconuts, though the first were raw and hairy. 

As the century progressed, the hairy coconut evolved into a beautifully decorated and painted throw that has been a Mardi Gras favorite.

However, the coconuts are heavy and extremely hazardous to toss in a crowd. By 1987, the growing list of lawsuits almost killed the beloved tradition. Injuries from the coconuts ranged from broken eye sockets to head lacerations.

When the krewe could not retain insurance, the coconut was replaced by painted walnuts and t-shirts. Still, the crowd demanded their coconuts.

To keep a beloved tradition and maintain safety, the city of New Orleans and Zulu have allowed the coconut throw to endure, but in a modified way. Today’s coconuts have no milk, no meat, and are simply the shell.

  • 2019 vehicular homicides:

New Orleans has seen a surge in drunk driving incidents over the years. During the 2019 Mardi Gras celebration, a drunk driver plowed into a bicycle lane, injuring seven and killing two.

Sharree Walls, a Krewe of Red Beans member, and David Hynes lost their lives when the drunk driver plowed into the bike lane at 80 mph. Tashonty Toney fled the scene on foot while witnesses tried CPR attempts in vain. 

In memory of Sharee, the Krewe of Red Beans painted homemade signs to encourage drivers to watch for pedestrians and bicyclists during Carnival season, 2020.

According to the latest statistics, Louisiana is the 9th most dangerous state for drunk driving fatalities. 

  • 2020 float deaths:

Tragedy struck Mardi Gras 2020 when two people were killed by parade floats in two separate instances. 

Geraldine Carmouche, a local, tripped while trying to catch a throw between a tandem float. She was pulled underneath by the second trailer. 

Another man was run over by a tandem float during the Krewe of Endymion parade. He was seen on video trying to catch a throw, only to trip over beads and be pulled underneath. Onlookers from the crowd shouted in vain for the float driver to stop, who could not hear over the roar of the celebration. Despite efforts from witnesses, the man was crushed to death. 

Float deaths are rare in New Orleans. However, two incidents during one celebration spurred the city into action. Members of krewes have voiced concerns that too many regulations will impede future celebrations

For the rest of Mardi Gras 2020, tandem floats were banned. For 20222, tandem floats will be allowed; however, they must have flexible barriers to prevent a repeat of the tragic events.

Stay Safe, Stay Sharp, and Let Mardi Gras Be What it is Meant to Be

The Carnival Season leading up to Mardi Gras can be an amazing experience for locals and visitors alike. For any first-time attendees, just remember:

  • The Zulu coconuts are safer than a foul ball, so go for it
  • Stay clear of the floats: Catching beads and other throws is part of the fun but not worth tripping and falling underneath
  • If you drove to the city or rented a car, do yourself and the city a favor and hide your keys in a cryptex Da Vinci would approve. Otherwise, walk or rideshare.  

However, if you find yourself injured during the Carnival Season, AKD Law is here to help.