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Festivals starting to come back as COVID restrictions ease up

Louisiana Crawfish Festival kicks off April 29th.
Updated: Apr. 28, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Festivals are coming back starting with the Louisiana Crawfish Festival Thursday.

As COVID guidelines relax at different rates in different parishes, organizers are trying to adapt safely and still provide a fun time that many are itching for.

“You want to pinch yourself, really, because you know not doing it for the last year so and you see you see things coming together, it looks real,” Cisco Gonzales said.

Organizers are bracing to see just how real it is. Vice President of the Louisiana Crawfish Festival Foundation, Cisco Gonzales says they usually bring in 120,000 people each day.

“We’re expecting one of the largest crowds ever, we’re going to have to maintain,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales says they’re still trying to be careful. They’ve had a COVID safe plan ready to go that even included face masks.

“We’re still gonna have the sanitizing stations. we’re still going to have the tables where you eat, you know, social distancing, we’re still gonna want to take caution, but the biggest thing I love is the face mask,” Gonzales said.

He says not having a face mask requirement will make things a lot easier on the volunteers.

The festival coming back has been a huge morale boost in St. Bernard, one of the first large scale festivals to come back in the spring

“We’ve got a lot of eyes on us how we doing it and we want to do it right,” Gonzales said.

The core of the festival isn’t just crawfish, it’s charity, giving out a quarter of a million dollars a year, and this year they’re giving back in more way than one by offering COVID vaccines.

“St. Benard is in the lower part of the COVID shot, percentage-wise, so you know we’re trying to help that percentage,” Gonzales said.

It’s a different story in New Orleans, which is taking a slower approach to easing restrictions.

“We decided to take it in baby steps,” Jared Zeller said. “The city is not ready to issue permits this spring for large-scale events.”

President of Friends of Bayou St. John, Jared Zeller says he’s just excited to get people outside.

It’s the same weekend in May, but no bayou for Bayou Boogaloo this year, split up between two venues: the Funky Uncle and the Broadside Theatre.

“My hope is to create some of the valuable elements that people love, but unfortunately, you won’t be near the water,” Zeller said. “Bring your personal rubber ducky out there or your float.”

Zeller says this year will be all about bringing it back to the core of Boogaloo, raising money, membership, and awareness to care for the bayou that so many people have been taking advantage of during the pandemic.

Zeller also adds the City’s promise to ease some more restrictions Thursday gives him hope he can welcome more people in.

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