Lafayette's Mystic Krewe of Apollo announced Thursday on Facebook that it will not be having Mardi Gras ball in 2021 because of coronavirus.
"This is not a decision that we came to easily," the krewe captain Darrell Frugé wrote on its Facebook page Thursday afternoon. "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 Apollo ball, held annually in the Cajundome, is one of the most anticipated and highly attended Mardi Gras balls in Lafayette.
"Although we are taking a short pause, we are still working behind the scenes with our upcoming royalty, King and Queen XLV, for another amazing production in 2022," Frugé wrote on the Apollo Facebook page.
While it is still uncertain whether other Lafayette krewes will follow suit, members of the Krewe of Troubadours are moving forward with their ball, scheduled for Feb. 6, ball chairwoman Darrellyn Burts said. The organization will have the Heymann auditorium for the entire night, and plans have already begun for rehearsal, children’s party and the ball for the krewe, which began in 1953.
“We are not cancelling,” Burts said. “We are working on constumes. We’ve got parties planned. If the worst happens, it happens. But we are ready for a ball. We’re all revved up. Hopefully the world will be in a good spot at that time.”
A report issued by the CDC in April said Mardi Gras likely accelerated the spread of the coronavirus in Louisiana. The report’s authors noted that the state had a “temporarily” increased population density when Mardi Gras celebrations in February attracted an influx of visitors to New Orleans and surrounding areas.
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.
But 2021 is unlikely to be a typical year.
Event cancellations in 2020 have included Festival International, Jazz Fest, Essence Festival and more. And in April New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell suggested the 2021 Carnival season could be the next casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Also on Thursday, the Mystick Krewe of Louisiana announced Mardi Gras festivities in Washington, D.C. would not take place in 2021.
"Typically, we would be preparing to send out Krewe member packets for the upcoming 2021 ball," the letter reads. "Sadly, this year's ball will not occur."
The annual Washington Mardi Gras, which runs over a weekend in Carnival season, features Louisiana food and music and an opportunity to rub elbows with the state's congressional delegation, among other movers and shakers.
More than 2,000 people from Louisiana make the trek up for the annual event, which has become one of the latest coronavirus casualties.
"Senior Lieutenants spent countless hours searching for a path forward," the letter reads. "However, the health restrictions due to COVID-19 are too much for an event of our magnitude.
"Forgoing our annual tradition is not a small decision. Washington Mardi Gras has been skipped only a handful of times in our 76-year history. World War II, The Korean War and Hurricane Katrina are rare examples."
Business editor Adam Daigle contributed to this report.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to take root in the United States, there has been much speculation as to the fate of next year’s Carnival se…