by: Brendan Adams
The coronavirus is forcing the cancellation of Mardi Gras parades for the first time since 1979.
While the coronavirus is still affecting millions of people throughout the U.S., Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans has cancelled all parades this year, forcing a big tourism dilemma. Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is a staple for the people of New Orleans, as well as the surrounding cities. People set up their ladders early on the day of parade and drink their daquiris. They bring their bags, ready to catch beads, stuffed animals and other prized catches. It is even a big event for tourists.
People that do not live in a state that celebrates Mardi Gras enjoy coming down to New Orleans for the experience of catching beads and enjoying the big party that is Mardi Gras. This is usually a good time of the year for local restaurants and bars. Each parade during the season brings in many locals and tourists that stop by before and after parades for good food and drinks. Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus forcing the cancellation of Mardi Gras this year, businesses in New Orleans are struggling to gain customers that they usually acquire during the Carnival season. Courtney Toca, an Events Coordinator for Oceana Grill in New Orleans, explains how restaurants and bars have been affected from a financial and tourism standpoint: “All bars and restaurants have been affected traumatically with the cancellation of Mardi Gras. All bars had to close, and restaurants had to stop serving alcohol by 11 p.m. We have lost out on thousands of dollars by not having the tourist attraction we normally have.”
The financial aspect of the cancellation of Mardi Gras is evident within the bars of New Orleans. Many bars are closed down, to help slow the spread of the virus, because these are the most populated places in New Orleans, especially the French Quarter. Bars will have to close through Mardi Gras day, and from there, bars will figure out how to get business back to regular standards.
College students account for a large portion of the parade-going crowd, and they understand the affect that it will have on the economy. Jack Pokrywka, a sophomore at LSU, says the Mardi Gras cancellation will affect the restaurants and bars, but also the merchandise and tourism expenses that go along with the Carnival season: “I think people will not buy as many plane tickets to New Orleans. They will not buy Mardi Gras beads, clothes, and accessories. It will also result in the decrease in alcohol sales due to bar closures.” There are many different businesses that work to sell beads to the people that ride on floats. Parades also are known for having vendors that walk by beforehand and sell peanuts, cotton candy and toys sometimes. These vendors will not be working this season either.
The cancellation of Mardi Gras is a hard idea for people to wrap their heads around, but, at the same time, people realize that it is all about keeping people safe during these uncertain times. Kate Addington, a junior at LSU, explains: “Mardi Gras is Louisiana’s biggest time for tourism, so I think it will negatively affect the economy, but I do believe it is best for the safety for all.” No matter what happens this Mardi Gras season, it will be one Louisiana will never forget.