BEAUMONT — KFDM/Fox 4 News has learned the Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas is canceled due to COVID concerns. The event, including several parades, was scheduled for February 11-14. Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames, City Manager Kyle Hayes, City Attorney Tyrone Cooper and Events Coordinator Emily Wheeler met Tuesday with Laura Childress, the President of Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, to discuss the event. They deliberated for about 30 minutes before deciding to cancel it.
The organization moved Mardi Gras from Port Arthur to Beaumont last year and said it was an overwhelming success. Childress told KFDM/Fox 4's Paige Hubbard she understands Southeast Texans will be disappointed about this year's cancellation, but says they can look forward to a great event next year.
"We desperately wanted to have the event," Childress told Paige, "but safety was most important."
Mayor Ames told Paige it would have been nearly impossible to follow the Governor's order related to COVID safety and still hold the Mardi Gras.
"The decision was in the best interest of protecting the public," said Mayor Ames.
The city and Mardi Gras of SETX had to meet now because the event was approaching and they had to make decisions about venues, vendors and other key elements of Mardi Gras.
Concerns about COVID spread have led Galveston to cancel its Mardi Gras and New Orleans to cancel all Mardi Gras parades.
News release from Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames:
Mardi Gras 2021
Let me begin by saying what a promising relationship the City of Beaumont has forged with the Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas. When the City was first approached by the organization to relocate to the City of Beaumont, the community was excited to partner with the organization to become the host city of Mardi Gras in Southeast Texas. The Mardi Gras of 2020 was one of the most successful events the City has experienced. Since that time, the nation and world has been overwhelmed by the grips of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has forced us all to recognize a new reality. A reality where gatherings in large groups for in-person meetings and celebrations is no longer advisable or permissible and social distancing and the wearing of face coverings is the new normal. Where Stay Home Stay Safe Orders of the state and local officials have been the mantra of the healthcare community.
Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32 prohibits any outdoor gatherings in excess of ten (10) people unless the Mayor of the city approves. With the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases climbing due to the post-holiday surge and the number of Covid-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity has exceeded 15% for the past several weeks, it would not be prudent for me, as Mayor, to allow the plans for Mardi Gras 2021 to move forward. The responsible thing to do to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Southeast Texas is to cancel the Mardi Gras festivities for the year 2021.
We look forward to celebrating Mardi Gras on February 24-27, 2022.