OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WALA) - Officials say while pandemic restrictions may have dampened the Mardi Gras spirit across the Gulf Coast, in Ocean Springs a new carnival cry is being heard: “Que le bon porche roule!” which means “Let the good porches roll!”
The Krewe of Porches aims to flip the traditional Mardi Gras parade on its head. Instead of a cavalcade of rolling floats parading by them, visitors and families will be able to make their own parade route through Ocean Springs to enjoy an outdoor exhibition of decorated porches and storefronts.
Residents and business owners are encouraged to join the fun by decking out their own front porches and building facades in colorful Mardi Gras fashion, competing for votes from the public in a variety of creative categories. Participating “porches” will be marked on a map for easy navigation. The public will select favorites by voting through social media.
Funds raised through Krewe of Porches will support art scholarships for children through the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA) and the Friends of Arts, Culture & Education (FACE). Krewe of Porches is a partnership between the Friends of Arts, Culture & Education (FACE), Historic Ocean Springs Association (HOSA), the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Public Art Project of Ocean Springs (PAPOS), and the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
“I read an article about a creative, Covid-friendly way that Krewe of Red Beans in New Orleans was embracing the lack of parades while also supporting local artists by hiring them to decorate porches,” said Heather Denison, the Ocean Springs resident who came up with the idea, “We’re so fortunate in Ocean Springs that we have strong arts and cultural entities such as WAMA and FACE. I’ve long supported both their scholarship programs and thought we could adapt this idea for Ocean Springs as a fundraiser that would benefit art for area youth while keeping the Mardi Gras spirit alive. Also I’m looking forward to partnering with PAPOS and HOSA whose creative energy and input had been invaluable to our community. I know my family is beyond excited to decorate our porch as a Mardi Gras float, it’s a time to get as creative as we want while hopefully bringing joy and amusement to my neighbors around me.”
“Changes in plans, like those we’ve experienced over the past year, are also opportunities for inventiveness," said Julian Rankin, Director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. "We’re excited to be a part of this creative adaptation to celebrate the Mardi Gras season with our partners and community.”
Cynthia Sutton, Ocean Springs Chamber Director, agrees, saying, “Everyone along the Mississippi Gulf Coast celebrates the Mardi Gras season, so to keep the spirit alive and as a way to help our visitors be aware of and celebrate the season with us, in a friendly, safe way, we are encouraging local businesses to spruce up their storefront porches!”
As Chair of the FACE organization, Elizabeth Feder-Hosey echoed those sentiments by adding that the Krewe of Porches project is an example of how FACE partners with other entities to “encourage creative expression and enrich lives through arts and culture experiences.”
Registration for Krewe of Porches is now open for Ocean Springs residents and businesses. Last day to register is Monday, February 8. A $25 donation per registrant is suggested. Voting by the public will take place February 9 through February 16. More details about this event are available on the Krewe of Porches Facebook page, or by contacting the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce at 228.875.4424.