Updated: Sep 1, 2020

After seeing the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel up close and personal, it became personal. I was shook. Hard Rock was a massive, intimidating, heap of indescribable destruction. I stood there surveying the the damage, in awe of the sheer size of Hard Rock, 18 floors of pancaked concrete slabs, rubble, debris and wiring. I imagined the panic, the fear and the adrenaline rush those construction workers must have felt as the foundation buckled and the floors gave way beneath their feet as they ran for their lives in terror while being showered with falling concrete and debris. I was shook. I was standing at a makeshift grave, a mangled concrete tomb of death where Quinnyon Wimberly and Jose Ponce Arreolas' dead bodies remain trapped inside. Two's. I was shook. In good conscience, out of respect for the deceased and their grieving loved ones, I had no desire to celebrate Mardi Gras literally over their dead bodies.

The collapsed Hard Rock Hotel stands as the worst eyesore in the city, located in the heart of the tourism district, on the Mardi Gras parade route, in downtown New Orleans at Canal and North Rampart Streets, adjacent to the historic French Quarters. Tourist from all over the world come to Louisiana to tour plantations where Africans were enslaved. Tourist from all over the world come to New Orleans to tour the devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I envisioned tourist from all over the world coming to New Orleans Mardi Gras to take selfies at the site of the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel as it if were another tourist attraction. I did not have a burning desire to laissez les bons temps rouler this year for Mardi Gras. In spite of the Hard Rock Hotel tragedy, New Orleans let the good times roll for Mardi Gras but the good times were short lived. Mardi Gras 2020 was marred by a series of tragic events that overshadowed the festivities, dominated local and national news headlines.

The eerie part was, the tragic events all occurred in two's. People in the community speculated that juju had been cast over Mardi Gras as Quinnyon Wimberly and Jose Ponce Arreolas' restless souls and lifeless bodies remained trapped inside the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel. Two's. There were breaking news reports and headline news reports throughout Mardi Gras 2020 almost daily it seemed, "two people killed by parade floats, two people fall from balcony along parade route, two riders fall from floats during Mardi Gras parade". Today, two weeks after Mardi Gras, New Orleans reported its' first Coronavirus case in the global Covid 19 pandemic.

Cosette Richard

9th of March 2020