You may or may not live in New Orleans, but if you’re located anywhere in the Gulf South, you’ll certainly encounter Mardi Gras celebrations at one point or another. After all, Fat Tuesday in New Orleans is almost as old as America herself. The holiday was brought to New Orleans as early as 1699 by French settlers, with the first party reportedly held at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Over the 18th century, the celebrations included parties, live music, and plenty of southern cooking. It wasn’t until 1856 that the first New Orleans krewe, the Mystic Krewe of Comus, was founded. The Krewe of Comus brought elaborate floats, costumes, and throws to the holiday’s celebrations. Parades also attracted more local crowds and visitors from across the world. Mardi Gras became a huge tourism opportunity for the city, and as the celebration grew, so did the dangers and precarious situations that could potentially occur.
Headquartered in Gonzales, Louisiana with a second location in New Orleans, Bush Law Firm knows the ins and outs of Fat Tuesday like the back of our hand. We’re here to help locals and tourists alike with the Do’s and Don’ts of celebrating Mardi Gras in Southeast Louisiana!
DO: Know Your Routes.
Logistics is Mardi Gras 101. There are numerous parades happening in different areas of the city at the same time, in addition to even more events on the outskirts of the city in Chalmette, New Orleans East, and the Northshore. You need to have a good grasp on the parade schedules and the routes they take, so you don’t get caught up in float transfers, street shutdowns, and pedestrian foot traffic. Make sure to have a concrete plan in action, whether you’re attending a parade, ball, or party, to get where you need to be. It’s good to think of a time table, mode of transportation, and driving directions well ahead of time.
DON’T: Get Too Intoxicated.
Mardi Gras is known as the ultimate party, but you don’t want the fun to end badly, which is more common than you’d think. According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, drunk drivers make Mardi Gras the deadliest holiday in the state. Not only can you suffer consequences on the road, but you can also be arrested for the following: public intoxication, lewd conduct, or disturbing the peace. Know your limits and always keep an eye on your drinks. And remember— it’s okay to take a day off from the celebrations and stick to H2O.
DO: Ditch the Car.
Seasoned parade goers know that bringing your own car means fighting traffic, spending ample time locating a parking spot, and walking a mile or two in order to reach your designated hangout on the parade route. Ditch the car for other modes of transportation, like the St. Charles or Canal streetcars, Blue Bikes, or your own two feet—hey, that King Cake doesn’t burn off by itself! You could even Uber or Lyft it, as long as the roads aren’t blocked off. Just be sure to mind traffic laws, watch for oncoming vehicles, and wear bright colors that will make you stand out on the parade route. Purple, green, and gold will do!
DON’T: End Up in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time.
There’s no denying that New Orleans is one of the most culturally rich cities in the United States. There’s delicious food, electrifying live music, unique street performers—oh, and everything that’s going on for Mardi Gras celebrations, of course. Many don’t realize, however, that New Orleans is also one of the most dangerous cities in America. NOLA’s homicide rate of 37 murders per 100,000 people is the fifth highest among mid- to large-size U.S. cities. During 2018, for example, there were 147 murders total in a city of about 400,000 residents, which is more than the 132 committed in Phoenix, a city four times the size of New Orleans. Don’t take your safety for granted —you must be aware of your surroundings at all times.
DO: Be Vigilant Against Scammers.
Out-of-towners or new residents will often be targeted by local scammers, especially in the French Quarter. They will normally ask you to make a bet concerning your shoes. They will claim that they can guess where you got them. Their answer will either be, “You got one on your left and one on your right,” or “You got them on Bourbon Street in New Orleans,” then they’ll wait for you to pay up. Don’t worry about appearing to be unfriendly, simply just walk past them and ignore their shtick. If you choose to entertain them, the scenario could easily turn grim or even dangerous, as you’re continually hounded for money everywhere you go.
DON’T: Forget to Stay Hydrated (Or To Eat).
Although you should always stay hydrated, getting your recommended serving of water is especially important during Mardi Gras, a holiday with long days, late nights, and plenty of Bloody Marys. We know it can be tough to keep your mind on water with all of the fun activities at-hand, but it is necessary to keep the good times rolling. Due to your tight schedule of parades and parties, it may also be difficult to keep up with your three meals a day. Pack a picnic for the parade, especially if you’re hanging on the route all day. Popular staples include sandwiches, burgers, and Popeye’s fried chicken. There are plenty of mouthwatering food selections in New Orleans, as well— map out where you want to eat in advance, and you shouldn’t have a problem finding something appetizing to chow down on!
Need a lawyer to help you with a legal issue, related to Mardi Gras or otherwise? Bush Law Firm is here to help you whatever the scenario might be. You can reach our Gonzales location at (225)800-8008 or our New Orleans office at (504)900-9009.