In Lieu of Mardi Gras Parades, Artists Are Turning New Orleans Homes Into Wildly Creative ‘House Floats’—See Images Here

Building 3,000 house floats was a boon for the city's out-of-work artists.

A home decorated with a Mardi Gras jester statute on in New Orleans, one of this year's house floats. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.
A home decorated with a Mardi Gras jester statute on in New Orleans, one of this year's house floats. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The pandemic can’t stop the party in New Orleans, where residents have transformed their homes into stationary Mardi Gras floats to help adapt the city’s traditional pre-Lenten celebrations for the age of social distancing.

Last year’s festivities were among the nation’s first superspreader events, so there are no parades this year. Instead, in the interest of public health, Carnival has become a drive-through affair, with homes festooned with beads and all manner of decorations.

“We’re doing this. Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbors walking by,” wrote Megan Joy Boudreaux on Twitter on November 17, the day that the city called off Mardi Gras 2021. What began as a joke was soon formalized, with Nola residents planning for the unconventional take on the holiday season on the Krewe of House Floats Facebook group.

The result is a stunning city-wide display of more than 3,000 homes decorated in the great traditions of American folk art.

A crowdfunded “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” initiative helped employ out-of-work artists to create 11 house floats, and commissioned work for two more homes and seven businesses, reports local CBS affiliate 4WWL. Each display costs about $10,000.

“We normally don’t do Mardi Gras stuff, but because the whole city wants Mardi Gras décor for their homes, we jumped right in,” Coco Darrow, of the local Stronghold Studios, told 4WWL. “Before the Krewe of House Floats, we had nothing. There were no jobs for months and we were barely surviving.”

“This was definitely the turnaround we needed,” Rene Pierre of local float company Crescent City Artists told the Denver Channel. The business is thriving after decorating 64 homes.

‘Gustav Klimt’ Mardi Gras house float, 1819 S. White Street. Photo by Laura Hettinger.

“Gustav Klimt” Mardi Gras house float, 1819 S. White Street. Photo by Laura Hettinger.

Many house floats have been inspired by local traditions and classic Mardi Grad imagery. There’s also a house for the late musician Prince at 3804 Banks Street, and one for Dolly Parton at the Scriptura stationery store on 5423 Magazine Street. It features an Andy Warhol-style portrait of the country singer, who helped fund much-needed vaccine research.

When Parton learned of the tribute, she sent a massive trove of her merchandise for the shop to hand out to visitors, reports the Times-Picayune.

Meanwhile, there’s a Lego-themed house at 418-420 Eliza Street, Algiers, that looks to “Lego” the trials of the past year, and a tribute to the late Alex Trebek in the form of a giant Jeopardy! game board on the facade of 2371 Chippewa Street.

Other memorable designs include the Little Shop of 2020 Horrors, which features murder hornets, a toilet paper shortage, and Audrey the man-eating plant at 430 Bounty Street, Algiers.

“I took a sculpture class from a local float maker,” homeowner Cori Haines told local ABC affiliate WGNO. “2020 was a dumpster fire, so let’s just throw all the elements from it in and have fun with it.”

Our favorite so far, however, is definitely the Gustav Klimt design at 1819 S. White Street, featuring a giant recreation of his masterpiece The Kiss.

The final day of Mardi Gras is February 16, or Fat Tuesday, and a map of the city’s house floats can be found here.

See more house floats below.

A Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Scriptura stationery store on 5423 Magazine Street has been transformed into a Dolly Parton-theme house float for Mardi Gras. Photo courtesy of Scriptura.

The Scriptura stationery store on 5423 Magazine Street has been transformed into a Dolly Parton-theme house float for Mardi Gras. Photo courtesy of Scriptura.

A motif in honor of Dolly Parton on a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A motif in honor of Dolly Parton on a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A transformed into a <em>Jeopardy!</em>-themed house float for Mardi Gras. Photo by Erin Whitely.

A transformed into a Jeopardy!-themed house float for Mardi Gras. Photo by Erin Whitely.

The Bird House, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Bird House, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Krewe of Muses Cosmos House is decorated with the nine Muses for a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Krewe of Muses Cosmos House is decorated with the nine Muses for a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A Mardi Gras house float decorated to honor Prince in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.]

A Mardi Gras house float decorated to honor Prince in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.]

A Mardi Gras house float decorated to honor Dr. Seuss and Dr. Fauci in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.]

A Mardi Gras house float decorated to honor Dr. Seuss and Dr. Fauci in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.]

A Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans titled "How Sweet It Is to Be Loved Bayou." Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans titled “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved Bayou.” Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A Mardi Gras house float with a dinosaur in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A Mardi Gras house float with a dinosaur in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A Mardi Gras house float at 5438 Chartres Street, New Orleans. Photo courtesy of the Krew of House Floats.

A Mardi Gras house float at 5438 Chartres Street, New Orleans. Photo courtesy of the Krew of House Floats.

The King Cake Baby house, created by Royal Artists, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The King Cake Baby house, created by Royal Artists, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Krewe d'Etat house, created by Royal Artists, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Krewe d’Etat house, created by Royal Artists, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

View of Mondo Kaya Feng Shui, whose decorations are sponsored by Krewe of Red Beans, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

View of Mondo Kaya Feng Shui, whose decorations are sponsored by Krewe of Red Beans, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

An absinthe fairy decorates a home in the Bywater, one of the Mardi Gras house floats in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

An absinthe fairy decorates a home in the Bywater, one of the Mardi Gras house floats in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Queen’s Jubilee House, whose decorations are sponsored by Krewe of Red Beans. It's one of the Mardi Gras house floats in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Queen’s Jubilee House, whose decorations are sponsored by Krewe of Red Beans. It’s one of the Mardi Gras house floats in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

Goin Down Da Bayou house, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

Goin Down Da Bayou house, a Mardi Gras house float in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A Total Renovation Mardi Gras house float with decorations sponsored by Krewe of Red Beans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

A Total Renovation Mardi Gras house float with decorations sponsored by Krewe of Red Beans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Birds of Bulbancha House, whose decorations are sponsored by the Krewe of Red Beans, honors indigenous birds of Louisiana. It is one of this year's Mardi Gras house floats in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.

The Birds of Bulbancha House, whose decorations are sponsored by the Krewe of Red Beans, honors indigenous birds of Louisiana. It is one of this year’s Mardi Gras house floats in New Orleans. Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images.


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