MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fat Tuesday is a week away and while this Carnival season may not look like years past it's not been halted by COVID. The spirit of New Orleans' most festive time of year lives on.
Pre-COVID, Dr. Maurice Sholas says the streets of the Big Easy would be filled with revelers, marching bands and parade floats.
"You can sit around and mope or we can makeup something else," said Sholas.
Coronavirus restrictions have put the breaks on America's biggest street festival.
"If there's one thing COVID has gotten in that we can't be together. No parades, no balls no big parties, so what did we do. We were New Orleanians and came up with another way to create beautiful thinks and be creative," said Sholas.
The entire side of the house Sholas shares with Dr. Val Malika Reagon's home in the Bywater neighborhood is a tribute to parading groups of New Orleans carnival.
"That right there is Big Chief Montana. He is an iconic figure, not just of the Mardi Gras season, but of the Mardi Gras Indians as the Big Chief and his tribe is there behind him. We pay homage to Zulu, the historically Black Mardi Gras krewe and you can see between the 2 displays there's a flower. My girls Dawn and Kelda did that. The King of Mardi Gras, Rex is represented here and the all female Krewe NIX, women as Superwomen and finally that's Leviathan one of the most beautiful floats of Orpheus," said Sholas.
Below, you can hear the calls to "throw me something mista" from excited revelers afixed the the side of the house.
Like nearly everywhere else across the country COVID's hit economies hard, so Sholas employed artists for this unique design concept and installation.
"We didn't just make beautiful things. We found a way to support our economy in spite of COVID, in spite of the fact we couldn't do our regular stuff," said Sholas.
"This is very difficult for people who love carnival. Who love to meet and greet," said Reagon.
Over in City Park, cars drive by animated and lit carnival floats for "Floats in the Oaks' with musical accompaniment from a local radio station.
"It was nostalgic. It was also sad because at the same time you're used to people being on the floats, throwing tremendous things," said Reagon.