Covid-hit New Orleans turns homes into floats for Mardi Gras

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The coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of many much-loved events and traditions but the good people of New Orleans were not going to let it ruin their annual Mardi Gras.

When the mayor of the Louisiana city announced that the raucous, crowd-filled street carnival parades would not be going ahead, residents decided to turn their houses into floats instead.

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Thousands have been transformed for the two-week long carnival that runs until Ash Wednesday on 17 February. In the picture below, you can see The Queen's Jubilee House.

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A special project was set up encouraging home-owners to hire the many artists who would normally have months of work preparing for the event.

René Pierre's company usually looks after 75 floats during Mardi Gras and he has managed to get contracts to build 53 house floats.

"My wife and I were trying to sleep one night, and we kept hearing notifications coming from the website. It was like instant success. It was incredible," he told CNN.

There were a variety of themes such as this reference to the Bernie Sanders meme from last month's presidential inauguration.

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And this homage to influential women including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died last year.

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The idea for the house floats came from a carnival regular, Megan Joy Boudreaux, who had suggested it in a post on Twitter after the mayor's announcement in November.

"It doesn't matter if your budget is zero and you're recycling cardboard boxes, or whether your budget is tens of thousands of dollars and you've got a mansion on St Charles. We want everyone who wants to do this to participate," she told the New York Times.

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She said she had expected a few friends and neighbours to join in, but by the beginning of January more than 9,000 people had signed up - some as far afield as the UK and Australia, the AP reports.

Some homes were decorated in honour of musicians, like this house below that paid tribute to former New Orleans resident and jazz clarinet payer Pete Fountain.

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And this house which referenced country music star Dolly Parton.

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There were also tributes to musician Dr John.

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And others evoked Zydeco music pioneers Boozoo Chavis and Clifton Chenier and the 'Cajun Hank Williams', DL Menard.

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An online map of the decorated houses is being made available for people to visit in their own time and, it is hoped, in a socially-distanced way.

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