Mardi Gras, the holiday of music, parades, floats and beads is just hours away from kicking off in New Orleans. Here are some tips and tricks to help you through the bare breasts, flashing beads and drunken party goers.
Plan Transport in Advance:
You may have booked your hotels and transport methods well in advance, but getting to the parade can be tricky so make sure you plan your route.
The French Quarter is closed to vehicular traffic during Mardi Gras. Only French quarter hotel guests and residents will be able to pass the barricades.
Off-site commercial parking slots will be available, but make sure you get there early as they fill up fast. Ensure you find a site close to your hotel as cabs are a lot harder to find during the holiday.
Watch out for parking tickets. Do not double-park or park in driveways, in front of water hydrants, within 15 feet of curb corners, too far from the curb, or on the Parade route within 3 hours of a parade. If you park your car in prohibited areas it will get towed immediately and you will face an astronomical fine.
Traffic is extremely congested on main routes during Mardi Gras and public transportation can get packed at prime times.
The Mardi Gras official website recommends that people bring a bicycle and a map to avoid the congestion and get around more efficiently. A a good lock is recommended as bikes are prone to theft.
Getting arrested is one of the easiest things during Carnival. Police at Mardi Gras have to work long hours to ensure maximum crowd control. While they show tolerance to drunks and rowdy crowds, it's always best to cooperate if an officer issues instructions. According to the Mardi Gras official website, the police have an efficient method to arrest people and send them to the central lock up.
TIP: Don't get too drunk, obnoxious or irrational in public.
Mardi Gras is a great excuse to dress up in costume, so make the most of the opportunity. There are contests for best-dressed. Purple, green and gold are the official Mardi Gras colors and don't forget to adorn yourself in beads. Wear shoes that you don't mind getting dirty.
Catch Mardi Gras Throws:
Mardi Gras is all about catching treasure. Whatever it is the riders throw at you--beads, stuffed animals, doubloons--try and catch them. If someone gets them first don't launch into a tug- of- war; there are plenty of throws to go around. If you are too far from the floats a popular trick is to hold up a sign citing where you are from. Often times riders will throw their freebies to further spots if they see a sign pertaining to the place of their own origin.
Do Not Reach Down to Pick Up Beads:
The Mardi Gras crowd can move forward and back much like a stampede between each float. Be careful not to lean down to pick up beads, you could easily get trampled on or knocked over.
Pre-plan Your Meals
Restaurants on the main carnival route will be packed with long wait periods. Try and explore a little off the beaten track, but make sure to check the area is safe before exploring. Also, there are plenty of street vendors selling food. Another idea is to bring packed lunches of sandwiches and snacks.
Watch your Bags and Wallets
Do not carry around any valuables and make sure your wallet and money is not in sight as there are plenty of pick pockets taking opportunity of the crowds. Be careful in the French Quarter; especially at night, women are urged not to carry a purse.
Practice Ladder Safety:
Many people bring ladders to get a better view of the parade, but remember all ladders must be kept behind the barricades. The ladders must be kept a safe distance from the crowds in case they topple over.
Have a Meeting Place:
With thousands of people on the streets during Mardi Gras it's easy to get lost. Make sure you have a map and good meeting place. Try not to flash your smartphones as they are likely to get stolen.