NEW ORLEANS (NOLA WEEKEND) - Contrary to most visuals that dominate national media, Mardi Gras is more than just the debauchery on Bourbon Street. Carnival season is mostly about family and friends gathering to celebrate this special time of year in New Orleans.
New Orleans Instagram influencers Noah and Xavi Ingram, known as @bukulocal on Instagram, offer a glimpse into family parading culture and highlight 10 things non-locals should know about Mardi Gras.
1. Wagons are absolutely essential if you have kids.
The trek down parade routes could be a very long, exhaustive one, especially with kids. Bringing along a wagon is a convenient way to keep kids and parade throws in tow.
Many families also bring along a Mardi Gras ladder, a ladder with a seat on top. This is also a great way to keep kids involved in the parade without worrying about them wandering about. Check out these DIY Mardi Gras ladder tips.
2. Kids get insane about toys, umbrellas, stuffed animals, etc.
Kids become a magnet for all of the cute throws during a parade, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
3. The space behind the neutral ground is the perfect place to play with all those new toys, balls, kites, etc.
While the streets are blocked off during parades, the space behind the neutral ground becomes the perfect makeshift playground to keep kids occupied, especially during the downtime between parades.
4. The bands, performance teams and krewes put in countless hours preparing.
Painstaking efforts go into the Carnival grandeur that wows revelers each year. Aside from the beautiful works of art created by float designers, popular marching groups, dance groups and high school bands prepare for hours for high-energy performances during parades.
5. Stand too close to that band, and you will get popped by a drummer, trombone player, tuba, etc.
When marching groups pass along the parade route, listen to the chaperones that make sure crowds make space for safety reasons. High-energy performances include choreographed routines with instruments that can result in a painful accident if you’re standing too close.
6. Keep your head on a swivel for those beads.
When the parades get going, beads are flying whether you’re ready to catch them or not. Make sure you pay attention at all times.
7. One of the best parts is seeing your friends on the route -- and you gotta cut up when you see them!
For many New Orleanians, Carnival season somewhat becomes a fun reunion for family and friends. Many families stake out the same spots on the parade route each year. Plus, most times you’ll run into friends during parades, and it becomes quite the celebatory event.
8. So much trash on the ground, but don’t worry. A cleaning crew follows the last parade.
Many out-of-towners may get shocked about how much trash a parade leaves behind. However, not to worry, the clean-up process after parades happens like a well-oiled machine.
9. Mardi Gras is way more about friends and family getting together than it is about debauchery.
Mardi Gras is more than what happens on Bourbon Street. With exception to a few French Quarter parades known for raunchy satire, most parades are family friendly. Several parades that travel Uptown, in Metairie, on the West Bank and on the North Shore are great for a family day out.
10. If you get caught behind the floats being wheeled back to storage, you’ll be in some serious post-parade traffic.
When traveling to and from parades, prepare for the long haul. Post-parade traffic can get pretty serious, so make sure you’re ready with a great playlist or activities for kids to help pass the time.
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