MARDI GRAS ARTIST
Hire A Mardi Gras Artist House Floats
In November of 2020, Mayor of New Orleans, Latoya Cantrell, cancelled Mardi Gras due to obvious complications related to COVID-19. That cancellation, however, came with a challenge: Find creative ways to celebrate Mardi Gras safely. New Orleans answered that call and citizens began transforming their homes into Mardi Gras floats!
“Hire a Mardi Gras Artist,” is one of the results of this challenge. The project is the brainchild of artist and float designer Caroline Thomas. She was instrumental in the grassroots effort aimed to transform 40 Orleans Parish homes into Mardi Gras floats with a bonus of putting laid-off artists back to work. The movement blossomed and is lending joy and inspiration to the entire city.
The idea for “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” came to her after several people asked her to decorate their homes. Thinking there might be an opportunity to put the whole industry back to work, Thomas approached Krewe of Red Beans and Feed the Second Line founder Devin De Wulf.
In an article originally published by “How magical to unleash the artistic ability of the professionals and help them at the same time because they just got laid off,” De Wulf told Southern Living. “This is an industry where the workers have never been celebrated or appreciated. They make beautiful floats, but nobody knows who they are. We want to celebrate them and put them back to work.”
Most people aren’t aware just how challenging it is to build a Mardi Gras float—it’s involved, skilled, and expensive. “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” has to raise $15,000 to bring just one house float to life.
There are two ways to give your home or business the Carnival treatment: either by commission or by donating to the organization’s crowdfunding effort. Each time they reach their $15,000 target, a raffle occurs. Everyone who donates is entered into the raffle.
“One person who donated $25 got their house decorated,” De Wulf said with a laugh.
Each house creates nine jobs, plus a gig for local musicians at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“This is proof that New Orleans is going to find a way out of this because we’re stubborn and resilient and we always find a way to add some color to a dreary situation,” Thomas told WWL.
It’s not just carnival artists and lucky homeowners who benefit either. Twenty percent of the funds raised by Hire a Mardi Gras Artist go to the program’s sister initiative, Feed the Second Line, which buys groceries for New Orleans culture bearers impacted by the pandemic.
“For anyone who loves New Orleans, it’s an incredibly direct way to support our culture,” said De Wulf.
Visit www.HireaMardiGrasArtist.com to learn more.
You can view the artistry here:
This link shows a map of the floats (there are over 3,000!):
WDSU has information about the floats on their app: