Bringing the culture and joy of the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade to streets across the nation.
For those who are new to Car Floats, the name itself may prompt some questions. No, we don’t sell water flotation devices for your car or amphibious vehicles. Because we sell artwork for automobiles, it may not seem clear at first why the business is named what it is. In order to understand “Car Floats,” it’s important to understand the history and culture of the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, as well as the spirit and resilience of the city’s traditions. Here’s what you need to know about our unique name and its inspiration.
New Orleans Mardi Gras Traditions
Mardi Gras as a holiday celebration goes back to the Middle Ages, marking the end of the Epiphany and the beginning of Lent in the Christian faith. When Frenchmen settled in what is now New Orleans in 1718, they brought the tradition of this celebration, though it looked a bit different back then. Think more elegant galas and less party-in-the-street parades.
Now, in New Orleans, the whole city erupts in jovial celebrations, parties, and extravagant parades for several weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, also called “Fat Tuesday.” These parades feature large creative floats adorning vehicles of all kinds. Some are elaborately artistic, while others are humorous. The theme of each parade and float is decided upon by the Mardi Gras “krewes,” non-profit organizations who individually fund and plan each float in the parade. The krewes also decide what to toss out from the float into the audience—a tradition called “throws.” Throws usually include beads, doubloons, cups, light up trinkets, and even coveted hand decorated pieces of art such as the Muses parade’s shoes, the Nyx Parade’s purses, or the Zulu parade’s coconuts.
2021 Mardi Gras Parade
For years, the Mardi Gras parade has powered through, growing in popularity and attracting visitors from all over the world. However, that all changed in 2021, almost a year into the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because travel and gathering in large groups was not safe, the parades could not go on as scheduled.
However, if you know anything about the city of New Orleans, you know that the culture is one of incredible resiliency and bravery in the face of devastating challenges. So, the people in New Orleans did something a little different. Instead of hordes of people congregating in the street as beautiful floats glided by, homes both in New Orleans and outside the city decorated in their honor. These “House Floats” had all the same characteristics of the typical car floats. They featured elaborate designs, kitschy or elegant themes, and nodded to the overall history and tradition of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Many hardcore Mardi Gras parade fans outside of New Orleans and even outside of Louisiana participated in the new House Float tradition. People across the city could drive around and view all the different House Floats, from the safe distance of their car. The House Floats gave them the same boost in morale in spirit that the traditional parade floats would have. During the pandemic, this is exactly what everyone needed.
Celebrating Joy And Resiliency
The house float concept was one of the biggest inspirations for Car Floats as a concept and a business. “Car Floats” are decorative, reusable, and removeable vehicle artwork that allow people across the country to participate in their own nods to the Mardi Gras tradition. The Mardi Gras floats at the parade each year cruised the streets bringing joy and laughter to the people of New Orleans. With Car Floats, you can bring the same type of cheer to the people in your area. Whether you choose a year-round design or a seasonal decal, you can be sure that your car’s unique look will draw attention, cause passerby to crack smiles, and may even make the days of people who really need it. This spirit of New Orleans Mardi Gras floats is something we could all use in our lives, whether we want to admit it or not.
So, there you have it. “Car Floats” is about more than paying homage to the Mardi Gras parade and the floats therein. It’s about emulating the spirit, resiliency, and joy of the people of New Orleans and the celebration as a whole, and then spreading that joy to the people around you on streets and sidewalks by decorating your personal vehicle. Especially right now, spreading joy even in the simplest of means can make a huge impact on society as a whole.