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'Responsible thing to do:' 2021 Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas canceled

As recently as the beginning of December 2020 organizers were still planning on holding the event.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The good times won't be rolling on the streets of downtown Beaumont this year after the city's Mardi Gras celebrations were canceled.

Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames said in a news release it would 'not be prudent for me, as Mayor, to allow the plans for Mardi Gras 2021 to move forward' due to the climbing number of COVID-19 cases 'due to the post-holiday surge.'

Ames also noted the "the number of Covid-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity has exceeded 15% for the past several weeks." 

She told 12News city officials met with Mardi Gras Southeast Texas organizers, and both parties agreed it was the best decision to cancel the festivities to protect the community. 

"The responsible thing to do to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Southeast Texas is to cancel the Mardi Gras festivities for the year 2021," the news release continued. 

MORE | Mardi Gras Southeast Texas announces 2021 event cancellation

Ames said the city looks forward to celebrating Mardi Gras in February 2022.

"Whether we canceled it or we didn't cancel it, we wanted to give every opportunity not to have to, because it was so successful in 2020 and we know a lot of people were looking forward to it," Mayor Ames said.

As recently as the beginning of December 2020 organizers were still planning on holding the event.

On December 9, 2020, organizers announced that Grammy-award winning rapper Nelly was going to perform in downtown Beaumont at Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas in 2021.

The Missouri native was scheduled to hit the stage on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 where he would have performed his top hits such as Hot in Herre, Grillz, Air Force Ones and more.

The 2021 Mardi Gras events, the 29th year for the organization and its second in downtown Beaumont, had been scheduled to happen throughout the February 11-14 weekend. 

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mardi Gras Southeast Texas said the event wouldn't be happening to "comply with the governors guidelines."

"We just cannot bring you the event that we promised to deliver and that you all deserve," the post continued. 

The city of Galveston pulled the plug on its 2021 Mardi Gras celebration on December 29, 2020 as concerns mount about coronavirus spread.

Opening the gates for thousands of festival goers is something that concerned at least one Beaumont doctor back in December

Dr. Msonthi Levine with Golden Triangle Internal Medicine told 12News in December it's important to continue to be cautious. 

"It just would seem a little suspicious, maybe a little careless that still in the middle of this pandemic you trying to form an event like that just because people are dying. It's still unpredictable," Levine said at the time.

Since October, COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates have continued to rise. Trends that Dr. Levine believes could only get worse by hosting larges gatherings like Mardi Gras. 

From a City of Beaumont news release: 

Let me begin by saying what a promising relationship the City of Beaumont has forged with the Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas.

When the City was first approached by the organization to relocate to the City of Beaumont, the community was excited to partner with the organization to become the host city of Mardi Gras in Southeast Texas. The Mardi Gras of 2020 was one of the most successful events the City has experienced. Since that time, the nation and world has been overwhelmed by the grips of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has forced us all to recognize a new reality. A reality where gatherings in large groups for in-person meetings and celebrations is no longer advisable or permissible and social distancing and the wearing of face coverings is the new normal. Where Stay Home Stay Safe Orders of the state and local officials have been the mantra of the healthcare community.

Governor Greg Abbott's Executive Order GA-32 prohibits any outdoor gatherings in excess of ten (10) people unless the Mayor of the city approves. With the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases climbing due to the post-holiday surge and the number of Covid-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity has exceeded 15% for the past several weeks, it would not be prudent for me, as Mayor, to allow the plans for Mardi Gras 2021 to move forward.

The responsible thing to do to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Southeast Texas is to cancel the Mardi Gras festivities for the year 2021.

We look forward to celebrating Mardi Gras on February 24-27, 2022.

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