Yardi Gras comes to Eastern Shore


DAPHNE – While parades won’t be on the streets of the Eastern Shore this Carnival season, some residents and businesses are still working to let the good times roll in preparation for Mardi Gras.

Decorations are springing up along the streets even if some more traditional celebrations are being canceled due to COVID-19.

One event on the Eastern Shore is Yardi Gras. Shawn Mitchell said, as in other areas, the idea is that Carnival isn’t going to be called off even if people can’t gather for parades and balls.

“I’d seen the house floats in New Orleans and then the porch parade in Mobile and I thought, gosh, I hope someone does that over here,’ and nothing was happening so I thought maybe that’s me,” Mitchell said. “So, I just started the Facebook page and it kind of took off from there.”

She said the response was surprising.

“We’ve had 24,000 visitors to the page, which I find just insane.” Mitchell said. “I just think people are just tired. The last year has been really hard and they’re isolated and they’re tired of everything being canceled, so I think this gave them a chance to participate in a way that’s still safe.”

Participants decorate their homes in a Mardi Gras theme and registered the sites on the Yardi Gras Facebook page.

“I was just encouraging people to decorate their houses and I thought it would be fun if we had a route map so people can drive around,” she said. “Drive around, see what people have done and people have really gotten into it.”

With no parades to watch this year, getting into decorating is one way to continue to celebrate the Carnival season.

“I myself have never decorated at Mardi Gras that much before,” Mitchell said. “I love parades, but this year, I’m going all out, which I’ve never done. So it’s just a way for everyone to participate and feel like we haven’t completely missed the season.”

Local businesses are also carrying on with the celebration. Explore Eastern Shore, the tourism arm of the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce is holding the Jazzin’ It Up Mardi Gras Decorating Contest for local businesses. Businesses uploaded photos of their decorations to the Explore Eastern Shore Facebook page where viewers will be able to vote on their favorities.

Yardi Gras participants are also taking part in a food drive, exchanging throws for donations for the Prodisee Pantry food bank.

Throws will be placed at participating Yardi Gras locations where anyone can exchange non-perishable food items for beads and other trinkets.

It’ll be the week right before Mardi Gras, the 10th through the 16th,”Miller said. “Take some throws, leave some food.”

While New Orleans and Mobile have their own new celebrations, Mitchell said Eastern Shore residents are taking part as well.

“We’re not as flashy as Mobile,” she said. “We don’t have the float barns to raid, but I feel like we’re getting into it in our own way. It’s fun.”