It’s beginning to look a lot like Mardi Gras in the Old Orange Historic District neighborhood. With Mardi Gras festivities and parades canceled because of the pandemic, Beth and Kenneth Wheeler have found a way to keep the good times rolling in a safe, yet unique fashion – Yardi Gras – by decorating your house like a Mardi Gras float.
“My wife, Beth, saw on Instagram that people in New Orleans were decorating their homes,” said Wheeler. “It’s a play off what they are doing, so I took the idea to an Old Orange Historic District board meeting. The idea was to celebrate the season and also to give downtown Orange more attention.”
No parades? No problem. More than 25 residences have transformed their houses to floats for everyone to enjoy, both day and night, through Feb. 16.
The Wheelers, who live at 1008 W. Pine Ave., have large cutouts of the Mardi Gras chicken chase tradition, a fiddler, alligators and a pot of gumbo. “It’s been so much fun to get the idea rolling,” said Wheeler. “We aren’t the New Orleans float designers, but we all have our own ideas and influences. It’s also become competitive, of course.”
Wheeler also suggests to view decorative houses during the day and again at night. “It’s like driving around looking at Christmas lights, but with a Mardi Gras theme and they look completely different at night,” he said.
Kimberly and Bob Manning have lived in Orange since 2013. “We didn’t celebrate Mardi Gras in Central Texas, but we have participated before in the Orange Mardi Gras,” said Kimberly, who resides at 802 W. Cypress Ave.
“Most of these homes in the district are 100-year-old Victorian style homes and have massive porches. If your decorations are not huge, it will get absorbed like putting a postage stamp on a letter. I knew had to come up with large items to stand out. The idea is to make the porch look like a float that’s ready to drive off into a parade.”
Matt Huston and his wife Vineen Giordano know Mardi Gras, all too well. The couple are Orange transplants who moved to 807 W. Pine Ave. from New Orleans about a year ago. They are using this opportunity to show their support of dog adoption through the local nonprofit, Be Intentional, by displaying festive signage that reads, “Krewe du Rescue,” and shows the faces of the four pups they have rescued.
“People are still somewhat paranoid of Orange,” said Wheeler, who owns two houses within the historical district. “There are beautiful houses here and they are a downtown amenity. It’s a village atmosphere. Everyone knows everyone. Old Orange is a comfortable place to live.”
Chad Cooper is the Entertainment Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org