New Orleans might be the only place where a pair of giraffes, a velociraptor and Dr. John can co-exist peacefully. The Krewe of House Floats, started by a casual suggestion on the internet to decorate one’s house as a Mardi Gras float, quickly sprang into a full-blown movement. Within a short time, 2,600 homes across New Orleans — as well as homes around the country and as far away as Australia, Europe, and Asia — displayed the creativity, pageantry and joie de vivre of Mardi Gras. Megan Boudreaux, founder of the Krewe of House Floats, said that the almost overnight response to her suggestion was “mind-boggling.” She is grateful for the many enthusiastic and talented folks who helped make her idea a reality. Boudreaux is scheduled to receive a key to the city from the New Orleans City Council for helping New Orleanians remember their “collective ability to keep the good times rolling.” She’s recognized for fostering commerce between residents and local merchants and artisans. Kern Studios erected grand displays, and smaller studios such as Crescent City Artists, Stronghold Studios and Robin Nichole Studio built custom scenes and throws. Local artists also got in on the DIY spirit, teaching classes on papier-mache, resin and flower-making.
While New Orleanians might not be able to watch the floats roll by this year, they can, thanks to the Krewe of House Floats, roll by the floats.
All of the houses featured below are those of Tulane staff or alumni. Some other Tulanians who took part in decorating house floats include President Michael Fitts with No. 2 Audubon Place and Newcomb-Tulane College with Cudd Hall.
(Photos by Sally Asher)
Darryl and Louellen Berger’s home was transformed into the Maison MASKquerade for Carnival. “We hope students will costume, mask, socially distance and walk St. Charles Avenue to enjoy what our individual homeowners have contributed to keep the merriment of Mardi Gras alive this pandemic year,” Louellen Berger said.
(Left to right) Krewe of House Floats Founder Megan Boudreaux, Opal the cat and Allen Boudreaux outside their USS House Float in Algiers Point. Megan Boudreaux, who jokingly refers to herself as “Admiral B,” said “It just seemed fitting that if I was going to be an admiral of this house float fleet, I was going to need a ship!”
A "Magical Musical Mardi Gras" house float on St. Charles Ave. celebrates musicians such as Professor Longhair, Dr. John and Louis Armstrong with a nightly light and music show. Its owner, who is passionate about Louisiana’s heritage and culture, said they are trying to “bring joy to New Orleanians in what has been a very tough year.”
The 2900 block of Bell Street in Bayou St. John is dedicated to the Belles of the Bayou, matching the neighborhood’s theme “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved Bayou.” The Marie Laveau house float (left) is owned by Knud and Chloe Berthelsen and the Leah Chase house float (right) is owned by Mark Douce and Alistair Johnson. The block also features Henriette DeLille and the Baroness Pontalba.
Jill and Avie Glazer’s NOLA pride is on display in the front yard of their St. Charles Ave. home. “We wanted to show our New Orleans spirit for a city that means so much to our family,” Jill Glazer said.
Claudia Baumgarten’s “floating house on a house float,” is a replica of her house made from cardboard, with fringe from cut up T-shirts.
Actor Bryan Batt’s Uptown home is festooned in vibrant flowers and beads. “I’ve always wanted to decorate my house like a float because it is shaped like a float,” Batt said. “And after missing so many Mardi Gras living in New York doing Broadway, I will celebrate it now even more than ever.”
At the “Dino Gras on the Avenue” house float, prehistoric creatures are on the front yard of the Fayard home, which is often referred to as the Wedding Cake House. Owner Frances Fayard said she was inspired by the children of New Orleans and the magic fantasy of Mardi Gras. Her husband, Calvin, worked closely with Barry Kern to complete the dinosaur theme, which took two-and-a-half days to install.
Owners of the Raven House, known as such thanks to its stained-glass doors that depict ravens, School of Social Work Dean Patrick Bordnick and his wife, Allison Stock, used money they usually spend on throws to create a house float and support Mardi Gras artists. Bordnick, who is on the board of The Roots of Music, created a fundraiser to support bands since they couldn’t parade this year.
The circus has come to St. Charles Avenue courtesy of Fred and Jennifer Heebe. “We love Mardi Gras,” Jennifer Heebe said. She usually rides in the Iris parade, while her husband rides in Hermes. “This year has been so special with all the kids and families stopping to see the circus!”