Mardi Gras: A Great Family Trip!
Keep in mind that most parades are held the two weeks before Mardi Gras Day. Check the parade schedule on this site for a full list and you will find that there are many days that host several parades with different routes. When attending parades remember the following:
1. Safety first
Arrive early and get the kids acclimated to the crowds around them. It's easy for children to get lost in a crowd, so write your last name and phone number on the child's clothing (some New Orleans parents write their cell or home phone numbers on the child's arm with an indelible pen). Designate a location to meet in case the family is separated. Instruct your children to go to the police if they forget the designated location. Teach your children about float safety, and keep them away from floats and marching bands as they travel down the street!
2. Bring supplies
Pack snacks, extra toiletries and a cell phone. Some restaurants are open on Mardi Gras Day, but it's recommended you pack a picnic basket just in case. Don't forget an umbrella if clouds loom. Some parades get stalled along the route and the event lasts longer than anticipated. Locate a public bathroom ahead of time.
|Photo by Cheryl Gerber
3. Dress comfortably
Mardi Gras isn't a fashion show, although it's a good time to strut your stuff. Wear tennis shoes (preferably water-proof and thick-soled for walks to and from the car and up and down the parade route) and jeans but costumes of any kind are preferred! Check the weather forecast. Weather can change quickly in New Orleans, so you might want to layer your clothes.
4. Stay on the traditional parade route
Kids don't belong in the French Quarter or on Canal Street during Mardi Gras. So take the family to St. Charles Avenue between First Street and Napoleon Avenue. Here the parade goers are all families. Many bring their ladders with kiddie seats attached to the top. The atmosphere is good, clean family fun.
5. Enjoy the traditions
Catching beads and doubloons from floats is a wonderful experience, but also introduce the family to the traditions of king cake, masking and music. Take time to visit the Audubon Zoo and the Aquarium of the Americas, the Louisiana Children's Museum, Storyland at City Park and take a ride on the St. Charles Avenue or Canal Streetcar. Mardi Gras is just the beginning of a wonderful family vacation in New Orleans!
6. Make this a learning experience
There's more to Mardi Gras than the parades. Take the children to the Louisiana State Museum's magnificent exhibit, "Mardi Gras: It's Carnival Time in Louisiana" at The Presbytere and explore two floors of Mardi Gras history. Visit Mardi Gras World and show them how floats are designed and made. Buy books and CDs that tell the history of Mardi Gras.
For information about the Education Project of the Rex Organization, click here.