On Saturday, I finally crossed going to Mardi Gras off of my bucket list. Now, it wasn't how I imagined and I didn't stay as long as I would have liked, but guys, I WENT TO MARDI GRAS! And even though I was only there for a day, a half a day really, it was SO MUCH FUN and everything I thought it would be. We had taken a road trip to see my mother in law for her birthday and CDub asked her if she wanted to go. My mother is law is always down for a trip to New Orleans, and off we went for a two-hour road trip to my favorite city.
We had a blast. Not only was it my first Mardi Gras, but Pookah's AND my mother in law's too. And even though we only stayed for a little while, we got there just in time for the parades and had a blast. And since it was my first time, I learned a few things that I want to share…
10 Things I Learned at my First Mardi Gras
1.The parades of Mardi Gras do NOT happen on Bourbon Street
The first misconception that I had that was corrected immediately was that the parades of Mardi Gras do NOT happen on Bourbon Street. We basically stayed on parts of St Charles Avenue for both the Tucks Parade for the Endymion Parade. The parades wind around the city, and we also saw parts of the parade again from inside of the Starbucks on Canal when we took a break from walking.
2. People will give your Cute Kid Their Beads
It was Pookah's first time and he was automatically obsessed with getting Beads. He had his hands up, and he caught a few, but there were quite a few people who just handed him beads. Towards the end of the night, my child started to resemble Mr. T….
3. Beads Travel at the Speed of Little Missiles
Beads travel at the speed of missiles. The people on the floats are trying to get them as far as possible. One grazed my ear and I swear almost sliced it off. One lady beside me got hit in the eye. I learned to have my hands up or duck quickly.
4. Get to the Parade Route Early
Of course, we did not do this, because we are a spur of the moment/last-minute type of family ( side eye to C-Dub). You need to get there really early to be front and center for the parades. People had lawn chairs, coolers, blankets…basically they were there for the long haul. One woman told me she had been there since 6 am for her seat for the Endymion Parade that stated at 4:30pm. ? But once again , cute kid prevailed and we got great spots to see the parades pretty well.
5.Plan well when you have to go potty cause….
Finding somewhere to go potty can be an issue. Either you walk to Canal street to use one of the Porta potties ( OH YUCK) or you pay someone anywhere from $2-$5 to pee at their establishment. Most restaurants along the parade route had signs posted that you could not use the bathroom unless you were a patron, or at one unless you spent $5. I even saw a place that said $10 for all day access. LOL. SO plan accordingly.
I know from experience that weather in New Orleans can change quickly. It's usually cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon and then cool again in the afternoon. We layered. So Pookah started off with a simple light long-sleeved shirt on, but I had a light pull over sweater for him in my backpack. Also, comfortable shoes are a must because..
7. There will be a lot of walking.
I assumed that since it was a parade, we would arrive, find our spot and just watch. ohh nooo. There was walking TO the parade route, there was walking along the parade route, there was walking to find a bathroom, walking to find a clear way to walk across the street, walking to dinner…you get my point. There is nowhere to park or DRIVE in the city due to all the Mardi Gras festivities. So you will walk.
8. Restaurants are open. And the Food is good.
There are tons of little street vendors selling polish sausage, king cake, Corn Dogs, drinks upon drinks, upon drinks….But taking a break to actually sit down in a restaurant is great. We ate at the Palace Cafe on Canal Street. It was a struggle to get there ( we had to find a way across the parade route) but the food is ALWAYS worth it. If you are celiac or have to eat Gluten Free like we do, don't be afraid of new Orleans. A lot of the restaurants either have a gluten-free menu or gluten-free items on their menu.
9. This is a family Event.
My first thought was…I've been mislead. Mardi Gras is actually a family event. I saw kids in strollers, babies on hips, kids holding their hands up for beads, families camped out together watching the parades. It was interesting to me because this is not a side of Mardi Gras that' I've been advertised. Now of course, there are a few things that you might have to explain away, or a few smells ( um contact high anyone?) But overall, it really is a family event.
10. You Will Want to Come Again
Pookah loved it. I loved it., even C Dub in all his cynical glory enjoyed himself. In fact, we are already plotting going back next year for the entire weekend. Because I want to see more parades, eat more food, catch more beads, have more fun!! Because I believe we just started a family tradition.
And now…the photos…Cause you know I took my camera! What tips do you have for Mardi Gras?
Have you ever been to Mardi Gras?