Parade routes can look empty one moment, but the crowd size can swell fast within an hour or two of the parade.
What better way to celebrate Mardi Gras than by wearing its traditional colors of purple, green and gold. Visit the many local party stores to pick up great shirts, hats and beads to wear during all the great festivities.
The weather is as much a toss up as the beads thrown in the parade. It can be very warm, or it can be cold. It can be sunny or rainy. It is a day outdoors, so plan accordingly: wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and layered clothing. At Mardi Gras, you can use your umbrella to catch beads or shield the rain!
Enjoy jumping up to catch beads, doubloons, cups, stuffed animals--whatever! Yell at the float riders "Throw me something, Mister!" Bring a large, sturdy plastic or cloth bag to hold all the treasure you'll be catching - if you try to put all of your beads around your neck, you'll have a hard time standing up straight!
Be prepared: some people get so overcome with excitement they will occasionally jump in front of you to grab what a rider has thrown to you. Don't get into a tug-o-war....there are many more floats on the way! If you're from far away, bring a sign saying where you are from. It may garner the float's attention.
Don't reach down to pick up beads, doubloons, etc. unless you are very careful! Put your foot on it, and when it's safe (between floats), you can bend down to pick it up.
Do not run into the street between floats for a trinket! Floats cannot stop on a dime.
The parades are for families, too! You can bring blankets and picnic baskets, and get there early to enjoy the day. As parade time nears, the crowd will gather everywhere, and you'll have to put up the blankets and ice chests. Don't be surprised if someone jumps on your blanket to reach a pair of beads!
Many restaurants along the parade route will close or not allow entry or departure during the parades. You may opt to eat street vendor food, or pack your own snacks and sandwiches. It will be a long day, so plan ahead! Also, bring wet wipes or tissues with you to clean up before eating. Your hands will get very dirty, and it won't be easy to find a sink and soap.