Talk of the Town - January 2021
- Story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
You just can’t keep this community’s collective Mardi Gras spirit down, even after the pandemic caused the cancellation of all our much-anticipated parades. Borrowing an idea from New Orleans and other Carnival strongholds in Louisiana, Hancock County residents can still celebrate, with houses – and anything else – decorated instead of fanciful floats, while competing for tons of prizes.
Elise Deano and Kay Kell cooked up the local version with Ruth’s Roots Community Garden as the contest sponsor. They posted an announcement of Hancock House Floats on Facebook Jan. 1, and almost immediately the contest took off. People quickly gave a thumbs-up to the idea, and donations of prizes began pouring in.
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“We just wanted something positive to kick off the New Year because everybody’s sad the parades were canceled,” Elise said. “We didn’t want that to be the focus of 2021, things we can’t do. So Kay and I got together and said, ‘we can do this.’”
Kay said after the parades were canceled, “Everybody needed something to be excited about,” including her. She and Elise were all-in to decorate their own homes after seeing a picture of the New Orleans house floats. “We both said, ‘let’s do it.’ It was no more organized than that.”
Joining in the fun couldn’t be easier. You must register on Facebook and have the decorations up by Jan. 31 to be eligible to win cash and other prizes. You can decorate anything: your house or business, a trailer or camper, a boat or a palm tree. All that’s asked is a donation of canned goods to Ruth’s Roots Blessings Box (130 Court Street) and to keep the decorations appropriate (read: nothing vulgar) for all of the community to enjoy.
The idea is to have the Carnival decorations on display like those at Christmas so people can drive around the community and enjoy them. Go fancy or keep it as simple as tossing beads from your front yard.
Judges will choose winners of cash prizes and door prizes. The first-place winners in the residence and business categories will receive $500, plus a painting on an oyster shell of the winning home or business by She Velasquez of Ashyri Paint Box.
Winner selected as the Wildest Float winner gets a $150 gift certificate to Wild Acres Hands-on Animal Experience in Wiggins, MS. Elise said prizes include generous gift certificates from tax preparers, to web designers, to pressure washers, and more prizes are being added weekly.
Elise asks that everyone support the local vendors who are so generous in their support. “People have also asked how they can donate door prizes if they don’t have a business. Consider buying gift cards from any of the local businesses in the area,” she said.
You can register online and see the list of prizes on the Facebook page . There’s also a list of best things to donate to the Ruth Roots Blessings Box on the FB page.