Hoda Kotb has found a way to celebrate Mardi Gras amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday's broadcast of the Today show, Kotb expressed her excitement about hosting the virtual event titled Mardi Gras for All Y'all. Beginning Friday, Feb. 12, the three-night event will stream on the NOLA.com and theadvocate.com websites, YouTube and Facebook Live, featuring performances, interviews and behind-the-scenes segments of the festivities.
"I'm just pumped up about it," said Kotb, 56. "I mean, Mardi Gras actually happened at the very start of the pandemic [last year], remember? Right around then was when the pandemic started and we didn't want to say goodbye to it."
The news anchor, who has close ties to New Orleans as she worked for the city's WWL-TV news station from 1992 to 1998, continued, "Just watch — we're gonna make everybody happy!"
In November, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell confirmed that, while Mardi Gras itself will not be canceled because it is a religious holiday, no parades of any kind will be permitted in 2021 as "large gatherings have proven to be super spreader events" of the COVID-19 virus.
"With COVID-19 cases increasing around the country, we will have to modify how to observe carnival season to be safe for everyone," the statement read. "We have done an amazing job flattening the curve — and hopefully it will stay that way through the winter — but we are surrounded by hot spots and we don't know what the future holds in store for us."
This will be the first time in 42 years that the streets of New Orleans don't host a series of Mardi Gras parades leading up to Fat Tuesday.
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According to NOLA.com, John Georges and Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World CEO Barry Kern teamed up to create the virtual event.
"I want to give people the understanding of what Mardi Gras really is. It's an incredible cultural event; for New Orleanians it's a family event, where generations of families come together," said Kern in a statement. "It's a celebration that's owned by all of us."
"And it's super important that people understand the economic benefit of not only Mardi Gras but all these things we do in our city," he added. "They mean business for tens of thousands of families in our community."
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