The Krewe of House Floats was the brainchild of Orleans resident Megan Boudreaux who felt that locals needed a safe alternative to the 2021 Carnival season despite the horrid pandemic that caused the cancellation of Mardi Gras parades.
Boudreaux posted her house float idea to social media that rapidly grew into an organization with more than 7,000 members.
“It started off as a twitter joke and now everyone wants to participate,” said Boudreaux. “We look forward to this not only being a way for people to safely celebrate Carnival season, but also as an opportunity to help our city’s culture bearers.”
According to the website, www.KreweOfHouseFloats.org,
“Decoration of the dedicated house floats will begin on King’s Day, Jan. 6, 2021, the official start of Carnival season. More than 40 sub krewes have popped up from neighborhoods throughout the New Orleans area, including Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, with those unable to return home for the Carnival season festivities celebrating from afar.”
And the movement crossed the CCC to Old Gretna!
Melanie Dixon, a passionate Mardi Gras fan read about the House Float celebration and knew immediately that Gretna would be a great place to showcase its houses while offering a pandemic safe opportunity for people to enjoy Carnival in this different, but innovative way.
Melanie has lived on the 300 block of Newton Street in historic Old Gretna for the past two years with her husband, Michael who was a prop builder and float painter in a previous life, daughter Mia and two rescue dogs. She is passionate about DIY Mardi Gras costuming. In fact, the entire family takes costuming very seriously.
“Every Mardi Gras we choose a theme and make our way to the French Quarter to watch and participate in the St. Ann parade and start planning for the next year’s costumes. This year, we will costume from our front porch!” When she is not planning or working on costumes, she works as an IT project manager at Ochsner Health.
Deciding to form an Old Gretna subkrewe, she wanted a partner. There was another Mardi Gras fan who was considering forming a Gretna subkrewe. A mutual friend told them about the other and off they went, becoming co-captains and fast friends in the bargain.
That partner is Jessica Marasco, pronounced like Tabasco, Illes. She, too, lives happily in Old Gretna on 2nd Street with her husband, Derek, daughter Scarlett and their rescue pups. You might have even seen them on their Gretna House Hunters episode. She has always loved Mardi Gras, claiming that she was born in January and went to see Grela in February!
Jessica is a member of the Krewe of Cleopatra and Derek is a recent member of Bacchus. When she is not preparing for Mardi Gras, she makes her living as a financial advisor with Edward Jones. Jessica and Derek are thrilled when the Saints are playing and are hoping for another Black and Gold Super Bowl!!
“Yaaass, Kween” currently has 87 sign ups. Our goal is to get to 100 members. People can reach out to email@example.com,” Melanie Dixon said.
A Carnival lover herself, Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant is very pleased with the whole house float idea and is participating by turning her own house into a house float. She said, “It is a wonderful feeling when the people join together to make great things happen for a community.
“I salute the efforts of Melanie Dixon and Jessica Illes who stepped up to start the Old Gretna and McDonoghville subkrewe, “Yaaasss, Kween!” The people of Gretna are the most resilient people I know and I am happy to see them create this Mardi Gras opportunity for our city with all COVID protocols in mind.”
There are other programs in the works that the Old Gretna co-captains have designed to help residents with the creative decorating side of the project.
“We are working to offer classes that would teach krewe members how to create Mardi Gras items to decorate their house. Geaux Westbank is offering a door hanger painting class of our logo. The classes are Jan.14 at 6:00 p.m. and Jan.18 at 3:00 p.m. The classes are two hours long and cost $40, materials included. The location for both classes is 4EverFit Nutrition at 1820 Belle Chasse Highway in Gretna,” Melanie said.
“We are also working to offer Mardi Gras float flower painting classes and possibly a sculpting class. A location has not been secured for either. We would need a spot that can accommodate 8-10 people, socially distanced. Dates and times are flexible. We would need the location to be donated. We are also looking for businesses who want to sponsor an art class to help pay for the out-of-work Mardi Gras artist’s time and materials.”
Community minded, the co-captains are encouraging the public to support the newly created food pantry program.
“We are partnering with the Westbank Krewe of House floats to help with food insecurity. We are working to secure other locations on the Westbank, but currently have four Gretna locations as confirmed drop locations for a food pantry. The food pantry will be open Feb.1 through Lundi Gras which is Feb.15,” Melanie said. “The foodstuff will go to the Gretna Food Bank.”
The current drop locations are:
- Gold N/Creations, 404 Huey P. Long Ave., Gretna, LA 70053
- Thai Djing, 93 5th St., Gretna, LA 70053
- Cafe Hope, 1 Timberlane Dr., Gretna, LA 70056
- Creative Framing, 516 Lafayette St., Gretna, LA 70053
Locals who love Carnival and are ready to safely do something fun are getting involved to make this event successful. Gretna’s ‘Drive the Huey” Christmas showcase of lights was very special and well attended as thousands drove by. Old Gretna and McDonoghville are lovely to drive through anytime. Got a feeling that 87 or more decorated houses to drive by will be a very special treat indeed!
Residents like Val and Paul Coles are “Yaaasss, Kween” members and are gearing up to start decorating their house. “Our home is affectionally called the DysFUNctional Inn, we put the FUN in dysfunction. Each year we decorate in purple, green and gold for Mardi Gras. This year we will do more than usual just to boost the mood of those passing by our home when leaving St. Joseph Church or running an errand. Pass by 516 Lavoisier Street and enjoy our DysFUNctional Inn.”
To sign up for the Old Gretna subkrewe, go to: https://kreweofhousefloats.org.
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