Revelers decked out in traditional purple, green, and gold came out to party on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans’ first full-dress Mardi Gras since 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic canceled last year's festivities. The general feeling of a city bereft of its signature event last year was summed up by the gold glitter messages on Mike Robertshaw’s and Nora Ellerton’s green and purple capes, the AP reports. Hers read, "Welcome back, y’all." His said, "We missed you." The fun included back-to-back parades across the city and marches through the French Quarter and beyond, with masks against COVID-19 required only in indoor public spaces.
Parade routes were shorter than usual, because there weren't enough police for the standard ones, even with officers working 12-hour shifts as they always do on Mardi Gras and during the end of the Carnival season. But with COVID-19 hospitalizations and case numbers falling worldwide and 92% of the city's adults at least partly vaccinated, parades and other festivities were back on. Costumed partiers gathered before dawn to see the North Side Skull & Bone Gang, dressed as skeletons, wake up the city's Treme neighborhood, reminding everyone of their mortality. From then on it was “Let the good times roll,” with celebrations in just about every corner of the city, leading up to a ceremonial clearing of Bourbon Street at midnight.
Fewer revelers appeared to be wearing politically themed costumes than in past years. Most of those who did so supported Ukraine, which is battling a Russian invasion. The return of Carnival season has been a much-needed boon for business in New Orleans, where the famed restaurants and music venues were restricted or closed for months. Parades were canceled last year because officials realized tightly packed crowds in 2020 had created a superspreader event, making the city an early Southern hot spot for COVID-19. Instead, people decorated their houses to look like floats as a way to keep the Carnival spirit alive. (Read more Mardi Gras stories.)