Making the Most of a Socially Distanced Carnival Season
Parades may be cancelled, but the good times will continue to roll across Louisiana! Like most holidays and celebrations over the past year, Mardi Gras 2021 will look a little bit different. It will lack the crowds, the fanfare and beads lining the streets; however, the revelry felt every Carnival season will be the same. There are plenty of activities for local families to get in the spirit.
To substitute for the lack of parades, New Orleans City Park is hosting Floats in the Oaks, featuring many of the iconic floats that parade down St. Charles Avenue and beyond every year. The event will be similar to City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks, which features holiday lights and whimsical installations. The 1.3-mile course will feature over 42 floats from at least 25 different krewes. This event will run in the evenings with additional daytime hours on the weekends from Thursday, Feb. 4 through Sunday, Feb. 14 and possibly through Fat Tuesday. For more information, visit neworleanscitypark.com/floats-in-the-oaks.
Besides Floats in the Oaks, people across New Orleans have turned their front yards, porches and balconies into stationary house floats. What began as a way to supplement for the parade cancellations and give local, unemployed artists work has bloomed into a New Orleans-wide phenomenon, which has an interactive map that highlights some of the most impressive house floats. Many neighborhoods have several houses, depicting Mardi Gras scenes and decorated areas, so families can make a day out of visiting each unique location.
[CREDIT: ERIKA GOLDRING/GETTY IMAGES]
A culinary staple during the Mardi Gras season is king cake. King Cake Hub aggregates 60+ varieties of king cake from bakeries across the New Orleans area. Its new location is at the Broad Theater near the Whole Foods on N. Broad. For more information, including all the varieties of King Cake available, visit kingcakehub.com/.
The sights and sounds of parades can be overwhelming for those whose senses are easily affected, so the adjustments made to this year’s Carnival season may be a welcome change for some. When visiting any or all of these Carnival attractions, parents of children with autism and other developmental differences should set expectations and communicate the plan with the entire family ahead of time. In addition, parents should outline the timeline of events for the day. If planning to visit multiple sites, give your child the opportunity to write down the plan as a checklist. If a trip to New Orleans is a possibility, make sure to pack plenty of things to keep your child occupied in the car: snacks, books, fidget toys, pillows and blankets.
If you live outside of the New Orleans area, there are plenty of sensory friendly ways to celebrate Carnival right at home:
• Get in the kitchen and try baking your own king cake.
• Bake some cookies and adorn them with purple, green and gold sprinkles or icing.
• Get crafty by making bead dogs with leftover beads from previous parade seasons.
• Create your own Mardi Gras mask at home.
Touchstone ABA will be closed Feb. 15-16 for Mardi Gras, and we wish our clients and staff a fun and safe Carnival season!
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