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King Dom Pedro XV, Matthew Trahan, left, and Queen Isabel XV, Mary Beth Lowry, are greeted as the Krewe of Carnival en Rio Mardi Gras Ball is held on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, at the Cajundome Convention Center in Lafayette. The Krewe of Rio parade will roll on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 in Downtown Lafayette.

The Feb. 13 Mardi Gras parade in Youngsville, canceled Thursday, was the latest in a string of events called off because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

City leaders said it was a difficult discussion — the parade had grown in popularity every year and would have been a welcome antidote for COVID-fueled cabin fever. However, even with the first doses of a vaccine becoming available in Louisiana as early as next week, city leaders said it would have been irresponsible to move forward amidst a global pandemic.

"I am optimistic that the end of this public health emergency is in sight with a vaccine becoming available and we look forward to holding a community celebration once it is safe to do so perhaps on Memorial Day or Independence Day," Ritter said in a prepared statement. 

Parades, balls and other Mardi Gras events typically bring thousands of visitors and their dollars to Acadiana. A 2010 study commissioned by the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission and the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association found that local krewes and family members spent nearly $10 million preparing for and celebrating Mardi Gras. Visitors brought more than $110 million to Lafayette Parish, with parade attendees spending almost $400 per person while visiting.

It is still not clear if any parades will roll in Lafayette, but the Greater Southwest Mardi Gras Association has been actively selling RV parking spots along the parade route and at Cajun Field, where the Mardi Gras Festival is still scheduled to runs from Feb. 12-16.

A Nov. 24 executive order issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards bans events such as carnivals, fairs and festivals. The order also limits crowd size to 75 people in an indoor space at the same time and 150 people in any outdoor space where strict six-feet social distancing is not maintained.

The order, essential moving Louisiana back into a modified Phase 2, was in response to rapidly rising positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state. Acadiana, in particular, has seen rising positivity at levels not seen since mid-July.

The order is set to expire Dec. 23, but Edwards has indicated his inclination to extend it into the new year, especially if the numbers don't decline.

While parades are still in question, many Lafayette Mardi Gras krewes have canceled their 2021 balls. On Tuesday, the Krewe of Rio announced the cancellation of its ball, one of the largest and most popular. 

"Even with the best planning and intentions, it became overwhelmingly apparent with the restrictions still in place, and the ball date looming just around the corner, the Krewe wasn’t going to be able to create the “Rio Rocks” type of experience members and guests have come to expect over the years," the krewe said in a prepared statement.

Another highly anticipated ball, that of the Mystic Krewe of Apollo, was canceled in June.

"This is not a decision that we came to easily," the krewe captain Darrell Frugé said in a statement. "Due to the pandemic that we are currently facing and the potential of a resurgence in the winter, which could cause social distancing measures to be put in place again, we believe that moving forward with a ball in 2021 is not in the best interest of our brotherhood, guests, sponsors and the community as a whole. We do not want to provide any less of a production than what our guests have become accustomed to!"

The following krewes have also canceled balls: Attakaps, Gabriel, Troubadors, Triton, Victoria and Xanadu. Many have scheduled smaller, private parties to honor royalty.

Krewe de Canailles, Lafayette’s first and only walking parade, will feature a modified parade format designed for safe participation for its 2021 Mardi Gras parade. Registration for “Oh, The Places We Didn’t Go!” opened last week.

Krewe de Canailles said in a prepared statement it has decided to take an adapted approach to the familiar Mardi Gras Parade in 2021, because "nothing can keep a Canaille down." Fitting with the 2021 theme, sub krewes will set up at designated locations, and decorate their lawns, porches and themselves with their sub krewe’s theme.

All parade stops will be mapped for the public to cruise by to see costumes and decorations, and to engage in general revelry. The format is similar to driving around to look at Christmas decorations, but instead revelers will be in the Mardi Gras spirit.

Editor's note: Mardi Gras traditions are an important part of Lafayette's culture and we are committed to covering them safely. If you have news about a Lafayette Mardi Gras event, please contact Kris Wartelle at kwartelle@bellsouth.net

Email Kristin Askelson at kaskelson@theadvocate.com.