KoHF is a membership organization that brings New Orleans’ Carnival home, providing the resources to connect artists and revelers across the world. The krewe was founded in 2020 on a whim, but with a serious and determined goal – that if we cannot safely gather together on the parade route because of the pandemic, we can still celebrate Carnival season in a way that supports our friends, neighbors, culture-bearers and locally owned businesses.
- To participants: We promise to provide resources to make the experience of decorating your home for Mardi Gras more enjoyable.
- To viewers: We promise to provide tools and information that make the experience of viewing house floats accessible and fun.
- To our community: We promise to do our best to create a new kind of celebration during Mardi Gras that is hyperlocal and, with luck and vaccinations, brings neighbors together.
The fiscal sponsor for KoHF’s 2022 giving campaign is the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO), a 501(c)(3) that advocates for local musicians, artists, culture-bearers and other allies of the cultural community. MaCCNO’s mission closely aligns with ours, since so many of those in the New Orleans music and cultural community have been unable to work since the pandemic began. COVID has only magnified MaCCNO’s original raison d’etre – to address larger systemic issues such as low wages, income disparity and a lack of affordable housing. Through this partnership, we will select and financially support other local organizations focusing on the needs of our cultural community.
KoHF literally started as a joke. On Nov. 17, 2020, in reaction to the news that New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell had made the hard but correct call to cancel all Mardi Gras parades in 2021, Megan Boudreaux tweeted to “Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbors walking by.” The idea snoballed so quickly that a significant number of neighborhood “captains” throughout the city met over Zoom just four days later.
The plan was to encourage residents to decorate their homes, however simply or grandly, and register their addresses on a map for release closer to Mardi Gras. The idea was that viewing house floats would sort of be like driving around to look at Christmas lights, but with the added bonus of knowing where to go, what the home’s theme was, and possibly scoring some Mardi Gras throws, many of which were handmade.
The City of New Orleans continued to move in and out of restrictive phases that mandated wearing masks and social distancing, and limited the number of people that could gather for any reason. KoHF flexed through all of these changes with an all-volunteer krewe that wrangled more than 2,600 house float registrants. We released the map on Feb. 1, 2021.
For tens of thousands of followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, KoHF also served as a matchmaker between Mardi Gras artists who’d become unemployed in the pandemic and homeowners with insanely creative ideas. Homeowners strung ball-pit balls into bead garlands with fishing line and crafted flowers out of everything from papier-maché to styrofoam to metal. You could even buy a 9-foot wooden painting of David Bowie, if you were so inclined.
On top of decorating, KoHF organized a giving campaign for Culture Aid NOLA’s food distribution and Grace at the Greenlight’s Meals with Love and Going Home programs for the homeless. Neighborhoods also organized art pantries, food drives and socially distanced throw distribution events.
And that brings us to our second year of existence. We’re a Mardi Gras baby, you could say. Although we invented a new aspect of celebrating Mardi Gras, we do want to respect existing traditions and add to the enduring and unique culture of New Orleans.
- Megan Boudreaux Founder, President
- Charmaine Cooper Hussain Director of Operations
- Joy Bruce Philanthropy Director
- Allen Boudreaux Creative Director
- Nikki Trufant Wade Digital Marketing Director
- Claire Cummings Media Liaison
- Morgan Johnstonbaugh Community Organizer
- Will Trufant Technical Director