MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Its 2021 Mardi Gras celebration all but a bust because of the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Mobile is considering staging a Carnival-style parade in May after the state's mandatory face mask rule expires.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson discussed the possible parade with City Council members during a meeting Tuesday, news outlets reported. The event would be held May 21 to coincide with the commissioning of the USS Mobile, a Navy ship built in the city.
Gov. Kay Ivey has said she would let the statewide mask order expire on April 9 because cases of COVID-19 have fallen dramatically and the pace of vaccinations is increasing, although health officials say everyone — particularly people who haven't been fully vaccinated — should continue wearing masks.
Ivey's office announced Wednesday that Alabama's Capitol and Governor's Mansion were reopening immediately in Montgomery for tours, but masks still would be required.
Stimpson said pandemic statistics are “excellent” right now and a celebration more than two months away is feasible. But he said there is still a lot of work to do and that it would be impossible to stage all the city's missed Mardi Gras celebration in one day. Dozens of parades are usually held along the coast during the Carnival season along with balls and other events, but nearly everything was canceled this year to guard against spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
“I don’t think every Mardi Gras organization wants to put all of their floats into a parade," he said. “It may be that an organization can put two or three floats in it. At some point, the parade gets so long we don’t have a route long enough to accommodate so many floats.”
Officials said the pandemic would still have to be taken into account, but City Council member C.J. Small likes the idea.
“I really believe that there should be a very big event from food trucks, Dauphin Street partying," Small said. “I mean very seldom do we have a warm day during Mardi Gras season. Us celebrating in May would be great.”
Dr. Bernard Eichold, the health officer in Mobile County, said it is too early to know what the status of COVID-19 cases will be in May and the agency recommends following federal safety guidelines, which include mask wearing and limits on crowd sizes.