In the heart of Mid-City, you’ll find a locally owned and operated art and fabrication studio that is not just decorating homes but bringing a new and special tradition to life this Mardi Gras season. Stronghold Studios is stepping up to the plate to lead the charge in the evolving phenomenon of ‘house floats.’
Amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the resilient spirit of New Orleanians prevailed, refusing to surrender their favorite holiday. Instead of the traditional revelry in the streets, the city decided to bring the joy right to their front doors—literally.
The concept of a ‘house float’ is as straightforward as it sounds. Residents adorn their homes with creativity ranging from papier-mâché and styrofoam to metal, all crafted by local artists.
The ‘house float’ movement can be traced back to 2020 when the Krewe of House Floats (KoHF) emerged in response to the cancellation of Mardi Gras due to the pandemic. What started as a humorous suggestion from Megan Boudreaux, the founder of KoHF, turned into a city-wide phenomenon. Boudreaux urged people on Twitter to “turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbors walking by.”
This lighthearted call to action inspired many “captains” throughout the city. The goal was clear: if people couldn’t gather on the parade route, they could still celebrate Carnival season while supporting local artists, friends, and neighbors.
Over the years, the ‘house float’ tradition has flourished, and now Stronghold Studios is ready to carry the torch forward. Coco Darrow, the founder of Stronghold Studios, expressed the sentiment behind the ‘house float’ concept, saying, “It is simply an extension of what we already do, except born from tragedy and transformed into a joyful Mardi Gras tradition.”
For Stronghold Studios, which is accustomed to going all out with decorating and costuming, extending the creativity to homes was a natural progression. The ‘house float’ concept not only turned spectators into participants but also eliminated creative barriers, allowing everyone to become a part of the Mardi Gras magic.
Stronghold Studios is currently accepting submissions from anyone in Louisiana with a ‘house float’—whether they are veterans of the tradition or DIY enthusiasts. From business storefronts to family duplexes, and mansions to tiny homes, Darrow and her team aim to ensure that the Mardi Gras spirit permeates every corner of the city.
Darrow encourages those interested in creating their own ‘house float’ to take the DIY route. “Find a theme or image you want to create; if you need inspiration try wandering through Plush Appeal, Jefferson Variety, or Michael’s craft store until you feel inspired. Then pick your materials: cardboard, coroplast, foamcore, or plywood. Zip ties, screws, acrylic paint, and duct tape are basics for construction and assembly. You are then only one Youtube tutorial away from a masterpiece!”
As Stronghold Studios leads the way, the ‘house float’ revolution continues to redefine the Mardi Gras experience, proving that even in challenging times, the spirit of celebration and creativity can thrive.
House float installations will begin the first week of January 2024 and last through the end of the Mardi Gras season. To follow Stronghold Studios, visit @strongholdstudiosnola (Instagram) and Stronghold Studios (Facebook). For more information and to submit your home to the Official 2024 House Float Map, visit strongholdstudios.com.