We are a Mardi Gras Family!! We love doing Mardi Gras together. It gets easier and easier as the kids get older but it is possible to do it with little ones. Believe me we did it when Porter was 4 months old. I put together a list of my best practices and what I think works and won’t. Hope this makes your Mardi Gras a little easier and a lot more fun.
We are Mardi Gras people and each year we get a little bit better at doing it as a family. It helps that as they have gotten older, they are easier to maintain at parades and they can help with things like carrying bead bags. Definitely makes the trip smoother and more enjoyable.
Over the last few years, we have gotten it down to a science, so I am editing this post (originally posted in 2018) to have a few more tips and tricks for this parading season.
First, this is a bonus tip, YOU CANNOT PARK ON THE NEUTRAL GROUD EVEN IF OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING IT! They will give you a ticket, tow your car or boot you sometimes. Don’t do it. Just bite the bullet and pay to park. Trust me.
Food and Drinks. I feel like this is a given with anything you take your kids to but bring food and drinks. I always pack snacks and usually some PB&J sandwiches. I also make sure to keep something for Big Daddy and I too because once the parade gets going we may not be able to sneak away to grab anything. A small ice chest or a rolling ice chest would be a great thing to have if you have a free hand to pull it. We usually bring the wagon and put the ice chest and the baby in it and make the big boys walk.
Bags. Somehow we always make this mistake and don’t have the right bags for beads and other things we catch. I don’t know why this seems to be such an issue for us. This year I am already prepared. **Updated** last year we learned the glory of asking floats for bags. As krewes throw their goodies they usually have a surplus of bags. Ask for one! Usually they will throw them down!
Bathroom. Unlike when we take the boys to French Quarter Festival or Jazz Fest the bathroom situation can pose a problem. They do have port-o-potties on the routes but it’s hard to know where they are. We try to plan a spot close to one or a business that will allow us to spend money (buy drinks and food) to use their restroom. Other friends of mine who will be on the route all day for parades like Endymion or Super Sunday use these. **Update** Last year we found a restaurant that if you ate dinner there and kept your receipt you could go back and use the bathroom.
Who’s riding. Get float numbers, float sides and position numbers from your friends who are riding. It is a lot harder than you realize to recognize people when they are on the float passing you by. Especially when they are wearing masks. Tell them where you are standing also and it will be easier to see them and get all the goodies.
Entering and Exit Strategy. We do this with any major event we attend. It is good to know how you are getting in and out if there is an issue with one of the kids and we need to leave early. Can we cross the parade route? Are we parked in an area that allows easy access to leave? If we do have to leave mid parade what route will we use to get out? I just like to have these things in mind in case there is an issue or we just want to leave. There is nothing worse than driving around aimlessly. Also, it is good to know what your emergency plan is. With any large event it is good to talk to your spouse and the other people you are attending with about where would be your meetup place in the instance there is a big emergency. This is also something we talk with the kids about. **Update** We had to leave Nyx early last year and it was really helpful that we had discussed this prior to leaving. Also, knowing it was cold and wet we had blankets, change of clothes and snacks in the car for the kids in case we got stuck in traffic.
Emergency Personnel. This is a great follow up point. I’m a mom and I am always looking for people in charge. I show the boys where the police are and they know that if they get away for us or if there is an emergency that they are to look for a police officer first. I am sure that someone is going to say that I am paranoid and overprotective but the truth is that the biggest reason kids get hurt or lost in emergency situations is that they don’t know what to do or they are scared. I am educating my kids and empowering them by telling them these things. **Update** last year at the New Orleans parades we attended I took the boys to tell the officers hello. I think this helped take a little of the fear away from what can be perceived as a scary police officer. I am always surprised how friendly the officers on the routes really are.
To ladder or not to ladder. This is a really important thing to figure out early. There is no point in dragging a ladder down to the parade route if your kids aren’t going to use it. We have rules for night parades that they have to sit in it but for day parades we usually don’t bother with in. It is definitely easier to move around if you don’t have one.
Rules. Parades are fun but they can also be dangerous for kids. You need to set ground rules for them if this is their first time going or if they are little. Truth is if someone on a float throws them a bouncy ball they are going to go after it no matter what so you need to prepare them before they get hit by a float. Obviously we are always around them but we talk to the kids before each parade.
- The floats can and will hit you so you are to keep a safe distance.
- Move back on the curb when the bands are coming. They need room and they will also run over you.
- The streets will be crowded so you are to stay close to mom and dad at all times.
- Don’t fight over beads, there is enough for everyone.
A Few of the parades we are planning to attend this year…
- Little Rascals, Metairie
- Krewe Du Vieux, New Orleans (we aren’t taking the kids to this one)
- Eve, Mandeville
- Cesar, Metairie
- Muses, New Orleans
- Iris, New Orleans
Enjoy your carnival season!
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