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February 2, 2021

Classroom Resource: Adapting a parade under COVID with ‘house floats’

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 24: View of a home decorated in honor of former New Orleans resident and jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain on January 24, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling traditional Mardi Gras activities, New Orleanians are decorating their homes and businesses to resemble Mardi Gras floats. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

 

Directions: Read the summary, and answer the discussion questions below. Click here to view the whole story by Janet McConnaughey at the Associated Press. 

Summary: After a New Orleans spokesperson announced that there would be no Mardi Gras parades this year, a “house float” movement started soon thereafter. One woman tweeted a joke about making houses into parade floats, and it went viral. At the beginning of January, the group already had more than 9,000 members. 

  • Some other Mardi Gras replacement celebrations include scavenger hunts, outdoor art, drive-through and virtual parades. 
  • Participants will decorate houses two weeks before Mardi Gras, which is February 16 this year. 
  • Megan Joy Boudreaux, who first had the idea for these house floats, suggested people hire or buy from Carnival artists and suppliers who have lost work due to the parade cancellation. This has greatly impacted at least one artist — Dominic “Dom” Graves — who hosts classes related to float construction.
  • Artist and philanthropist Devin DeWulf made a crowdfunded lottery, raising enough money to put about 40 people to work on decorating over 11 houses. 

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 24: View of a home decorated to celebrate Dino Gras on January 24, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling traditional Mardi Gras activities, New Orleanians are decorating their homes and businesses to resemble Mardi Gras floats. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

 

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • What is Mardi Gras, and how is it usually celebrated in New Orleans?
  • Who started the idea for house floats?
  • Where is this ‘parade’ taking place?
  • When in Mardi Gras this year?
  • How have people been able to help those who lost work due to the parade cancelation?

Focus question: Can you think of any artistic or celebratory traditions in your community that have been affected by the pandemic? What is a creative way you can think of to continue those traditions this year?

Media literacy: In the article, there are pictures displayed of very large houses with extravagant decorations. Do you think it would’ve been important to hear from people where it’s not as easy to still celebrate the holiday in the way they’d like? How is it easier for some to make the most of their time in the pandemic?

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 24: View of The Acadiana Hay Ride House, whose decorations are sponsored by Krewe of Red Beans, and pays homage to zydeco pioneers Boozoo Chavis and Clifton Chenier and the “Cajun Hank Williams” D.L. Menard on January 24, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling traditional Mardi Gras activities, New Orleanians are decorating their homes and businesses to resemble Mardi Gras floats. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

 

Art activity: Draw, paint or otherwise invent what your “house float” would look like if you were to make it part of a community parade.

  • What would you include to represent yourself and your family?
  • What would you include to represent your community and the ways it has adapted this past year?

Dig Deeper: 

  1. Use this resource to examine how groups of people have been affected differently throughout the pandemic.
  2. Check out this resource on how other arts programs have adapted to the pandemic.

This lesson was written by Rebecca Shaid, EXTRA’s intern and freshman at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.


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