Mardi Gras to a local is all about parades, historic rituals, having fun, and parties…tons of parties. To do Mardi gras like a local, here are our suggestions of dos and don’ts.
1. Don’t Buy Beads
If you’re coming to town for the first time, don’t buy beads. There are many parades were you will have the opportunity to catch some beads and we promise that you will not go home empty handed. You will catch so many beads you’ll be able to pass them out to friends and family back home. Buying beads is not something that locals do unless you are riding.
2. Do Arrive Early To Town
When traveling, it is always a good idea to give yourself leeway for traffic. Arriving early will give you time to enjoy what the city has to offer before the madness starts. Arriving early in town also means that your FOMO will be under control.
3. Get to the Parade Early
Parading like a local means getting there early to get spots like these folks. Getting to the parades early means better spots. The better spot you have the more likely you are to catch good throws. If you arrive late you will mostly likely end up behind someone or not all together with your group. Also, parades means traffic. If you arrive late be prepared to be sitting in your car for a while.
4. Don’t Run Through the Parades
Running through the parades is not safe. This is especially dangerous because children can get injured by the floats. The floats are always stopping and going abruptly.
5. Do Bring Your Kids
Parades are fun for everyone so make sure to bring your children. Kids get excited when they see the floats and all the throws. The most family friendly parades are the super krewe parades. However, super krewes aren’t the only fun parades that your children will enjoy. For example Barkus is a parade with dogs in costumes!
6. Don’t Pick Up Throws Off the Ground
If you miss a bead and it hit the floor leave it!. It is rumored that it is bad luck to pick up beads from the floor. On the realistic side, the ground in New Orleans during Mardi Gras especially is not the place where you want to pick up throws from. Even if they are in tacked and great throws. the streets during mardi gras season get filled with beer, horse and dog manure.
7. Do Bring a Bag
This is important. Your neck and hands tend to fill up fast. The krewe’s do occasionally throw bags after they are done but we recommend bring your own bags to start. This way you don’t have to wear all of them you can wear some and throw the rest in bags.
8. Don’t Pee Anywhere But a Bathroom
Drinking and partying is what Mardi gras is all about. All that beer has to go somewhere right, so find a port-a-potty, yes they are nasty and disgusting but peeing in the street is illegal. If a cop sees you, you will be arrested. There will be restrooms opened along the parade route. Some restaurants, schools, and churches will have their restrooms open to raise money.
9. Do Bring Cash…Don’t Bring Valuables (purses, wallets)
It is always a great idea to have a purse handy while traveling but during Mardi Gras it is not a good idea to bring anything but cash and your ID. Some places do take cards so if you want to take cards then we suggest that you combine your cards into a small card case that fits completely hidden in your pocket. There are individuals who pickpocket purses and wallets.
10. Do Use Plastic Cups and Don’t Litter
New Orleans is known for partying and waking up with headaches, but in some places in new Orleans the use of cans and bottles are prohibited. It is best to use a plastic cup. We also recommend you keep a trash bag handy so that you can just dispose of them.
11. Don’t Park Carelessly
Getting to the parades late is kind of like going to the grocery store on a big football game; drive in circles fifty or so times until you find a spot that you are not sure if it is a legit parking spot. Don’t do it, you will either get towed or get an annoying parking ticket. We recommend carpooling, getting someone to drop you off or use public transportation. Do take note however, that the streetcar has a different schedule during Mardi Gras.
12. Do Wear a Costume
Mardi gras is the time to get that crazy costume out. Costumes here range from just headdresses to people wearing tutus, masks, and full costumes. Not everyone wears costumes though and that’s okay. Although if halfway you change your mind, most likely you’ll catch some throws that will make a costume.
13. Don’t Undress for Beads
Unless you are at Bourbon at night, do not undress for beads. It is not appropriate nor wanted by anyone. Please women no flashing. Men even if you have a six pack you too. There are little kids running around around and it is not right for anyone to be stripping their shirt off flashing for throws. It’s illegal too.You will get arrested. No lewd conduct is needed to catch throws.
14. Do Make Restaurant Reservations Early
Restaurants during mardi gras tend to fill up fast so book your reservations asap. Some restaurants do not take reservations so you may need to get there early.
15. Don’t Get Obnoxiously Drunk (or be Obnoxious in general)
You don’t want to be that one guy screaming curse words at a parade with kids around. Don’t be that person. Playing your music ear piercing loud when bands are passing or on stage is disrespectful.
16. Don’t Spend Your Whole Time in the French Quarter
The French Quarter is a great place to go, but don’t lose track of time and forget the other great parades. There are a ton of great parades to attend, and not all of them go through the French Quarter.
Mardi gras in New Orleans is the original party, so why not party like a local.