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Calista Daley, 15, reaches up to catch beads as the Krewe of Southdowns rolls in the Southdowns neighborhood in Baton Rouge, La., on Friday, February 21, 2020. The theme of the krewe's 33rd parade is "Southdowns Returns to the Roaring Twenties."

The Krewe of Southdowns canceled its 2021 ball and parade Wednesday because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the krewe president.

“The health and safety of the public and of our members is our primary responsibility,” Krewe Captain Tad Haller said in a Facebook post Wednesday evening.

He said that although the COVID-19 vaccine is weeks away from distribution, it is not likely that the general public “will have sufficient numbers to safely support the 2021 Mardi Gras Season.”

Earlier Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is expected to receive an initial batch of 40,000 doses of Pfizer's coronavirus later this month. This shipment will largely go to frontline workers at hospitals, including nurses, doctors, cafeteria workers and janitors who work with or near COVID-19 patients. An unspecified number of doses of Moderna's vaccine will be distributed to nursing homes shortly thereafter.  

Adm. Brett Giroir, a senior official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, noted there may be “a lot of controversy” surrounding who gets access to vaccines after the first batch. 

Southdowns is one of many krewes that have canceled their parades and balls in recent weeks. The Krewe of Orion and Krewe of Artemis canceled festivities earlier this week, and Mid City Gras announced it will have a reverse parade on Feb. 7 instead of the scheduled traditional parade. The Spanish Town annual ball has been canceled, though the krewe has yet to decide on their parade. 

State and local leaders have grown increasingly concerned following a steady rise in new cases of COVID-19. In New Orleans, parades won't be allowed to roll in the new year, city officials announced two weeks ago.

Baton Rouge krewes met Nov. 20 with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to discuss options for Carnival activities during the pandemic as case numbers surge for the third time in the state. City officials discouraged traditional parades that draw large crowds and suggested an alternative — “parked parades” in which the floats are stationary and visitors can drive by to view and receive throws.

In his post, Haller added the krewe will still have a theme for 2021 and will make doubloons and t-shirts available to purchase.

“It is truly unfortunate that present circumstances prohibit the full Krewe of Southdowns experience,” he said.


Email Jacqueline DeRobertis at jderobertis@theadvocate.com