It was not just another Tuesday in New Orleans.
Tourists still came, not understanding that the city they came to see (Bourbon Street, big public events) was essentially shut down, and some were angry that their Mardi Gras was hanging around in the AirBnB. The restaurants, open to limited capacities, were turning people away as they were the only game in town.
The City had shut down the parades, the bars (even for to-go service), liquor sales in the French Quarter, live music, and pedestrian traffic on Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street and Decatur. Reaction varied to this, with some thinking it was the right thing to do at the wrong time, others that it was a gross overreach of government power, and especially service industry folks thinking it was an unfair attack on their income streams. These restrictions were successful at minimizing crowds throughout the city, the goal. The weather turned towards winter, with below-freezing temperatures in the morning, further dampening spirits.
There was a semi-official effort to keep the party going, with static displays of floats for people to drive by and the encouragement of an innovation, the Krewe of House Floats, where people decorated their houses even more than usual for their own entertainment and for the amusement of people driving or walking by. Even so, it seemed like a forced effort, and many friends I talked to did not expect much, with many people not planning to mask or go out.
Well, we were wrong. Mardi Gras was spectacularly disorienting, as it should be. People were out strolling and biking in homemade costumes and gathering in small groups on porches and sidewalks. I walked the neighborhood in full costume, double masked as many were, putting in 17,616 steps dressed as a complete fool, happily socializing with friends old and new and drinking too much. I gave out two dozen Jell-O shots, mostly to strangers in costume.
I was gifted king cake, jambalaya, and homemade honey vodka, and was issued a tongue in cheek citation for not wearing enough bright colors. I was covered with confetti and sprinkled with glitter. I saw a group of adult bicyclists dressed in dinosaur onesies, the Krewe of Purple Drank dressed as go-cups, and princesses, jesters, and fools. There were groups of adults just out playing, and family groups dressed to a theme. A man in elaborate Salvador Dali makeup was handing out rubber balls from the basket on his bike. The police cruised through the neighborhood looking for big crowds or other violations, but were not intrusive.
It was a pretty good Mardi Gras for a canceled event, just weird and crazy enough without the press of the big crowds, and a good chance to act foolishly with friends.