Kings Day kicks off unusual Carnival season

King Cake

It's Kings Day -- the start of the Carnival season. Carnival 2021 comes as the coronavirus pandemic is flaring up in Louisiana and across the nation. In spite of that, some of today's Kings Day traditions will go on, although a little differently than they have in the past.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ushered in Carnival today with the mayor's annual king cake party, only this one had fewer attendees in person, says Mardi Gras Guide publisher Arthur Hardy.

"The mayor will have her carnival kick off with the king cake cutting celebration," said Hardy, "so, it's some sense of normalcy there."

The event will be socially distanced, and Hardy said some krewe captains will join via video conference.

"Many of the attendees, krewe captains, will do so virtually," he said.

And an annual revelers' ride down St. Charles Ave. will still happen.

"The Phunny Phorty Phellows is once again proud to be announcing the beginnings of carnival, but this year we'll be doing it in a very socially responsible way," said the Phellows' anonymous captain. "Our mission is to spread the word that we still have carnival. You know you can't kill carnival, you can't get rid of it, it will be different, as we know."

The Phellows' captain says there will be fewer riders on the streetcar tonight, and fewer people at their party at the Willow St. streetcar barn.

"Because of the pandemic, we will have fewer people on the streetcar," she said. "Everyone will be socially distant."