OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Typically, thousands of people line the Mardi Gras parade route in Ocean Springs, clamoring for beads. But in 2021, the sidewalks on Government Street will have plenty of room to walk.
Ocean Springs announced earlier this month that they would cancel their annual Mardi Gras parades.
For new Coast residents Mark and Kathy Kostos, it’s disappointing news to hear. The couple bought a vacation home on the Coast this year and were hoping to experience the magic of carnival season in their new home.
“Just all the events they have here in Ocean Springs, we really enjoy it,” said Kathy Kostos. “We’ve been coming down here for about seven years and we’ve been to some of them, but we haven’t been to Mardi Gras yet. That was the one we were really looking forward to coming to.”
Instead, the only beads the Kostos will see this Mardi Gras season are the ones that still hang in the trees from last year’s fun. And while it may be disappointing news, it’s news the Kostos say they understand.
“I understand, yeah I mean, we have to be safety first before anything else,” said Kathy Kostos. “I totally understand why they would cancel it.”
Mark Kostos chalks this up as yet another event taken during a year riddled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One more 2020... 2020 just gets it again. It is what it is at this point,” he said. “You got to live it out.”
“Living it out” can be easier said than done. Coast Mardi Gras Outlet sells tens of thousands of beads each season and the business’s president Leonard Cooper Jr. says he has to order supplies around one year in advance.
“We were very disappointed. We’re sitting on a lot - A LOT - of beads and special beads and merchandise that we had to order and we didn’t know what was going to go on, but we just had to order or we wouldn’t of had anything,” said Cooper. “We need it to survive normally. I mean we really do. We got a lot of money invested.”
In addition to the two Ocean Springs parades being canceled, four others will also not roll until 2021, including one of the Coast’s biggest parades hosted by the St. Paul Carnival Association.
The North Bay Mardi Gras parade will also be missed on the streets of St. Martin and D’Iberville after its cancellation announced last month.
The Krewe of Nereids and the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland announced last week the cancellation of the 2021 Nereids’ Parade.
Biloxi’s Second Liners Marching Club also announced they would not hold their annual parade.
And it doesn’t end there. Earlier this month, Biloxi Mayor Andrew “Fofo” Gilich said he is “about 80%” sure the city will cancel all Mardi Gras parades for 2021.