NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell says this year's Carnival is a go.
With hugs and smiles, in a room filled with pure joy, Krewe members and the City of New Orleans officially welcomed the start of this year's Carnival.
"Oh my gosh, it feels so good," said Femme Fatale founder Gwendolyn Rainey.
"I'm excited, I'm really excited about it," Zulu president Elroy James said.
It was the annual King's Day celebration, a moment revelers have waited for.
"Without a doubt, we will have Mardi Gras 2022, we will!" Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared.
"This is what we look forward too," Rainey said. "It's going to be absolutely beautiful this year."
The day is bittersweet though. Louisiana marked a new single-day record in COVID-cases on Thursday. New Orleans also reported a nearly 32% positivity test rate, with cases still climbing.
Still, Mayor Cantrell is optimistic about this year's festivities.
"We feel with the progress this city continues to make," Cantrell said. "With over 92% of our adults being vaccinated, and over 80+ fully vaccinated, our young people now over 48% we're doing everything to I say accept and appreciate this tremendous milestone and that is Mardi Gras 2022."
Health is on everyone's mind. Especially for James, who says 17 krewe members have died from COVID since the pandemic began. This year's Carnival he says, will help the Krewe heal.
"So many of us will parade with their spirits in our hearts and their memories for this organization I think it'll be a wonderful time, but it'll be a moment of reflection for Zulu members," he said.
Despite everything that's going on, people couldn't help but smile as the ceremonial King Cake was cut.
"We're looking forward to a safe 2022," Rainey said.
And many say they're ready to once again, let the good times roll.
Cantrell says the city has done everything necessary to protect residents and prepare for the upcoming Mardi Gras. Her message to those coming to the city to celebrate is to come vaccinated, masked, and COVID-free.