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New Orleans Krewe of Boo Parade Returns10/23 10:16

   

   NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Parade-loving New Orleans is about to get its groove 
back.

   After over a year where the coronavirus largely put an end to parades, an 
assortment of witches, goblins and other masked creatures are set to take to 
the streets Saturday night in the city's first parade with floats since the 
pandemic put an end to such frivolity.

   The Krewe of Boo is a Halloween-themed parade that stretches from the city's 
Marigny neighborhood, through the French Quarter and into the Warehouse 
District. Riders on the floats dress up in Halloween-themed outfits and throw 
ghoulish and fun trinkets and beads to crowds that pack the streets. The parade 
usually features marching bands as well as dancing interspersed between the 
floats.

   But the last time such a parade rolled through the city's streets was Mardi 
Gras 2020, which was largely credited with contributing to the city becoming an 
early hot spot for the coronavirus. As the extent and seriousness of the 
pandemic became apparent parades as well as music festivals were canceled.

   If the city can successfully pull off the Halloween-themed Krewe of Boo 
parade safely, without a resulting uptick in COVID-19 infections, it will 
bolster Mayor LaToya Cantrell's tentative plans toward bringing back the lavish 
Mardi Gras processions that fill city streets during the annual pre-Lenten 
celebration.

   "This is a step towards the return of Mardi Gras next spring," Cantrell said 
in a Twitter post after announcing in September that the Krewe of Boo parade 
could proceed. "What happens next depends on what we do right now!!"

   On Friday, the mayor said unless there is a "dramatic turn for the worse in 
our COVID numbers" that Mardi Gras would go forward next year --- her strongest 
comments yet that the massive parades that accompany the yearly celebration 
would roll again.

   As part of Saturday's safety measures for Krewe of Boo, riders and marching 
group members must be vaccinated, or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

   Also, health officials will be conducting a study during the parade to 
better understand coronavirus spread in large gatherings. About 40 health 
employees and volunteers will be out on the parade route to assist people in 
taking the survey and handing out goody-bags to those who take part. In keeping 
with the Halloween theme, all 40 will dress up as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White 
House adviser and face of the federal pandemic response.

   Krewe of Boo was scrapped last year and this year's Mardi Gras was a subdued 
affair without parades and a largely vacant French Quarter. As vaccinations 
became more widespread and infections dropped, the city began loosening 
restrictions that had limited capacity at restaurants or music venues. In one 
of the last stages of loosening restrictions, officials announced in May that 
they would start to accept applications for parades and the smaller processions 
called second-line parades.

   The rise of the delta variant, which filled hospitals across the state over 
the summer, called into question the viability of parades, which largely resume 
after the hot summer months are over. But in September, Cantrell announced 
Krewe of Boo would be allowed to parade. She credited work residents had done 
to slow the delta variant's spread.

   The city will also have testing during the parade.

   "Testing, vaccines, and masking are proven to stop the spread of this virus, 
and if we continue these mitigation measures, we feel confident that large 
events will be successful in the future," said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city's 
top health official said in a news release.




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