Southern Decadence kicks off, celebrating 50 years

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Southern Decadence has officially begun. It’s been 50 years of what’s known as the “Gay Mardi Gras” and one of the biggest events in the city.

The festival is expected to bring in over 300,000 people this year.

After two years off, there’s plenty to celebrate.

“We celebrate people from all backgrounds, all ethnicities, all colors. We want to just come here and celebrate love, because love is love. Love wins overall. Love is the winner,” New Orleans resident Marcus David said.

“You can really come here and just be yourself. You know, throw down the robes, just open yourself up and just be who you are and be accepted for it,” Alex Perez, a visitor from Phoenix, Arizona said.

It’s a time to let your hair down, but monkeypox caused some events, like the Bourbon Street Extravaganza, to cancel because they want to keep their community safe.

However, the city has been preparing and hosting tons of vaccination events, some even happening this weekend.

“I got my monkey pox shot right there,” Entertainer Jennifer Warner said. “That’s what we do to keep each other safe and healthy.”

There’s no stopping this festival. The whole Quarter comes to life for five days.

“We need connections. We need ‘love is love’, we need happiness. It’s that time for us. We need that,” Warner said.

That’s what this long weekend has always been about, year after year.

“It’s like a family reunion for me. I’ve been coming for 15 years and I see people that I met the first time that came here,” Warner said.

Right in the heart of the festivities, at the intersection of St. Ann and Bourbon, look down! You’ll see a new addition created by NOPD Officer James Roberson, Wendo Brunoir and Jolean Barkley.

“I felt that we needed some sort of pride to show the city, as a permanent display of the affection that we have towards the LGBT community here in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter, which has been a site of gayness for years and years and years before us and will go on after us,” Roberson said.

Don’t forget about the big parade at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The theme this year is a red and gold “Jazz, Burlesque, Decadent.”

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Kaitlin Rust

Kaitlin Rust

Kaitlin Rust joined the Fox 8 News team in November 2020 as a reporter.