Mardi Gras Parade Tips
By: Jessica Azar
Mardi Gras parades have become popular all over the South. As much as we think of Mardi Gras as a time to let loose, it’s also a great time to make lasting memories with our kids and families. The Southern Weekend has some tips to help make your Mardi Gras experience a seriously enjoyable time for everyone as you “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!” (Let the good times roll!)
1) Bring Bags – Trust me, your kids are going to catch far more than their little hands can hold. To prevent yourself from being the designated holder of everyone else’s Mardi Gras loot, make sure that each child brings a bag for himself or herself. Plastic grocery bags work, but I recommend something sturdier like reusable grocery bags or beach bags. Be sure to label each bag with its owner’s name so you don’t have to play referee on the way home.
2) Dress Up Yourself – Mardi Gras parades are filled with fantastic costumes, and kids love to get in on the fun of dressing up, too! Let them raid their dress-up boxes and closets for costume creations, or pull out last Halloween’s outfits for an encore performance.
3) Arrive Early – Being early to a Mardi Gras parade affords you and all kinds of advantages when the family is tagging along, and choosing the best places to stand ranks right at the top. Be sure to find a place where the kids can stand at the front of the crowd to see clearly, and on the beginning half of the parade route. Some krewes forget to pace themselves when they throw out beads and goodies, so being stuck at the end of a parade where little loot is being thrown can be a big bummer for the kids. Identify places to take the kids on a potty break ahead of time so you will know the quickest route if the situation arises, and trust me, IT WILL.
4) Agree on a Meeting Spot and ID Tag on Children – In conjunction with arriving early, agree on an easily seen and readily identifiable place to meet up if for some reason any of your group gets separated. Parades, like any crowded occasion, get crazy. Write your phone number and put it in your child’s pocket in case of emergency, or take a piece of duct tape, write your phone number on it in permanent marker, then stick it on the inside of your child’s jacket. This could also be helpful if the jacket were accidentally left behind.
5) Mardi Gras Ladder – If for some reason you weren’t able to score a place at the front of the crowd, a little Mardi Gras ladder will be VERY useful in helping your kids catch things being thrown to the crowd. Being little in a sea of arms that can reach much higher than yours can put you at a severe disadvantage. Some places actual sell “Mardi Gras ladders,” but you could make your own by getting a cheap, lightweight stepstool. Have a pre-parade party to decorate the ladders for even more fun.
6) Bring Snack/Drink bag– Someone’s going to get hungry or thirsty or hungry and thirsty. Plan ahead to keep from having to scramble for food when the beads are flying. It’s nice to have a snacking alternative to the Moon Pies they’ll be catching.
7) Dress in Layers – This time of year in the Southern weather is seriously unpredictable, and dressing in layers provides a bit of insurance from a child getting too hot or cold. If layers get removed during the parade just have the child put the extra clothing in the bag you wisely had them bring to hold their Mardi Gras loot. This will keep your hands free to take pictures of such a memorable family experience and maybe even catch a few throws yourself!
8) Do Your Homework – Most parades are fantastic events for kids to enjoy, but there are some with a rowdier reputation. With a little online research and by asking friends who have gone to Mardi Gras in the past, you should be able to get a good idea of which parades will be the best choices for your family to attend.