If you’re planning on going to a Mardi Gras Parade (or multiple) there are a couple tips & tricks that are handy to know so you are fully prepared and can make the most of the day! Side-note: these tips can also apply to other New Orleans parades.
1. Beat the Crowd
New Orleans’ natives take the parades very seriously. There will be sections blocked or barricaded off; people will set out lawn chairs or ladders way in advance; and bleachers or platforms will be full. There is always room for people at the parades though, because the routes are long and people can squeeze in. But take a look at the parade route in advance and figure out where you want to watch the parade from. Once you have decided where you want to watch the parade, get there EARLY!! It’s good to get to your spot one to two hours early. If there happens to not be many people out yet, then you have some time to walk around. You can always have some of your group stay at your spot and take turns holding down the fort. If you plan on Ubering or walking to the parade you have some extra time. People who plan on driving should make sure to give themselves plenty of time in order to sit in traffic (most likely unavoidable) and to find parking as it will fill up.
2. Use the App
There is an app you should download that is an absolute life-savor! It’s called WDSU Parade Tracker. It gives the names and times of all the parades and shows the exact route each parade will be taking. One of my favorite features is that it will show where the parade is at and where you are so you have somewhat of an idea how close/far the parade is from you. This app can be used for other New Orleans parades, not just for Mardi Gras.
3. Be Porta-Potty Prepared
If you have to use the restroom during a parade, you will most likely have to use a porta-potty. Stores and coffee shops will say their restrooms are out of order; and restaurants will have you buy something in order to use the bathroom. So you are left with the porta-potty. Make sure to have some extra toilet paper just in case, and a mini hand sanitizer as well – you never know how clean/dirty they’re going to be.
4. Stay Hydrated
During the day parades especially it can get HOT. Even though it’s Louisiana’s winter, the temperatures can be high and so can the humidity. You are standing outside in the heat for long periods of time and you don’t want to pass out from heat stroke. So make sure to be staying hydrated.
5. Bring a Bag
You might be lucky enough to catch a bag from the parade. But if you’re not, then you’re left with your arms more than full to try to carry all the throws you got at the parade. So bring a sturdy bag to carry the items you might catch – you’ll thank yourself at the end of the parades.
6. Have a Phone Charger
Being at the parades all day long will definitely be draining your phone battery. With everyone on electronic devices it seems the batteries drain faster and service is worse which doesn’t help either. So if possible, keep your phone on airplane mode to save it for when you really need it. And have a portable phone charger with you. Especially if you plan on Ubering Home at the end of the night, you want to make sure you have enough phone battery.
7. Have Fun!!!
The parades are all about having fun! Rain or shine, the parades still go on. Mardi Gras comes once a year (even though it lasts a few weeks) and you have to make the most of it! So to go some parades; catch some awesome throws; and have some good times with great people at the Mardi Gras parades!