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Even though the Mardi Gras season starts every year on January 6, Mardi Gras is determined based on when Easter Falls. Mardi Gras is the final day of debauchery before all the Catholics (myself included!) participate in the 40 days and 40 nights of Lent. To truly celebrate Mardi Gras, book your last minute trip to New Orleans and follow my top 13 tips to ensure you are partying like a local.
What to wear
1. Wear Purple Green and Gold
– But whatever you do, do not wear beads to the parade route. I repeat, do not show up with beads. You will catch so many beads at the parade, that showing up with your own will let everyone know you are a tourist.
2. Costumes are encouraged
– Yes! Another day of the year you can wear costumes. I am a purist and only wear costumes on actual Fat Tuesday. But costumes have been increasingly creeping into the other parade days.
3. Be prepared for all types of weather
– Parades roll all day all weekend long. So make sure you wear layers for cooler afternoons. Have a rain jacket for any nasty weather. And keep shorts on your for those sometimes hot Mardi Gras Days.
4. Wear Comfortable Shoes
– Oh, you thought since you were going to your friend’s house with an excellent spot on the parade route you were not going to walk? Walking is a significant part of Mardi Gras. Walking to get drinks. Walking to the restroom. Walking to get more pizza.
What to Eat and Drink
– What? You haven’t had Popeyes yet? Well, that is just a shame. Eating Popeyes during Mardi Gras is one of my favorite past times. I can easily remember Mardi Gras 2003, hanging out with my high school friends and they pulled up with a box of 100 pieces of spicy chicken. It was a glorious moment.
6. King Cake
– Every time someone has king cake, eat it. Mardi Gras is your time to try every bakery, grocery store, and homemade king cake you can find. My favorite is a cream cheese from Haydel’s or the Ponchatoula king cake from Maurice’s French Pastries. You get double points if you can get a slice of the coveted Dong Phong Bakery.
7. Buy enough drinks to share
– I drink one of three things on the parade routes – 190 Octane daiquiris, beer or Jello Shots. Mardi Gras is a free for all, so if you think you are going to sip on a six pack all day long, buy two! That way there is enough for you and enough to go around. Besides, no one likes a guest who doesn’t bring something for the host!
8. Charge your cell phone and bring a charger
– Charge your phone, Charger your Mophie, Charge your charger. Well, you can’t charge a charger, but you get it. Cell service gets pretty spotty around the parade route, and it will cause a drain on your battery.
9. Track the parade
– Parade tracking technology has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years. Use this technology when you are back at your friend’s house munching on Popeyes and King Cake.
10. Find My Friend App
– Just in case you get separated from your friends or its hours after the parade, and you can’t find anyone, make sure you sync up your Find My Friends app before hitting the parade route. This will help you wander away from Bourbon Street and back to St Charles.
– figure out your bathroom situation as soon as possible. I typically hang out on St Charles and Napoleon where I can quickly run back to my friend’s house to use the bathroom (fill up my drink, and eat more), but before my friend lived on that corner, I had to find alternate plans. My favorite place to use the restroom is at the local churches. Usually for the low rate of $5 an hour you can use a clean restroom (or Port-a-potty) with complimentary hand sanitizer.
12. Bring Cash
– even though I live in a world where Credit is King, it is just easier to have cash on hand. Some street vendors won’t be able to run their credit card machines, and some bars run a strict cash-only business during Mardi Gras.
13. Don’t Drink and Drive
– probably the most important tip on this list DON’T drink and drive. There will be plenty of tipsy and over the limit people on the road, so it’s better not to drink and drive. I typically leave my car at my friend’s house or in the neighborhood if I’ve drunk too much and user Uber, Lyft, or the local taxi. Now, Uber sends out a comprehensive guide on how to take a ride-sharing app during Mardi Gras so make sure to read it. Be prepared to pay for surge pricing if using a ride sharing app.
Have any other tips for Mardi Gras? Share them below in the comments.
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