Mardi Gras probably isn’t what you think. It’s less Bourbon Street and more families returning to their same spots year after year on St. Charles. We (Chris Shaffer and I) put together a list of tips to help you get into the carnival spirit and avoid rookie mistakes.
1) Plan ahead. Don’t just roll into a parade, though that’s ok, but look at times, places, and throws. Be picky, that’s ok. You don’t have to go to every Mardi Gras parade, few do.
2) Be prepared for weather. Rain jackets are better than umbrellas. It’s hard to catch loot when you have a giant shield over your head.
3) Bring snacks. If you go to many parades, you’ll be missing a meal or two more than likely. Snacks are a must.
4) Bring a backpack or a bag for your throws and to store extra supplies.
5) Make friends with people on the parade route. We are a seminary and Gospel conversations in the city are our calling.
6) Don’t be grabby. Be willing to give things away – especially if your cup overfloweth. If someone on a float specifies another person and you catch it, give it to that other person. Your witness is more important than your beads.
7) Download the parade tracker app – either one.
8) Don’t park illegally – tickets are double.
9) Bring cash for bathrooms and food trucks.
10) Make eye contact with the riders. Ask nicely and say thanks. Sometimes it might be impossible to ask and you’ll have to shout nicely and shout thank you.
11) Creative signs work, but don’t block people with your sign. No matter how creative it is, it becomes a stupid sign when it blocks people behind you.
12) Don’t be stingy. Make sure everyone in the group gets a coconut, a spear, a mask, a purse, a shoe, etc., etc.
13) Consider buying a grandstand ticket if you find you aren’t a fan of crowds. They range from $15 to $65, but no matter the cost, the experience is fantastic.
14) Make friends with Chris Shaffer. He knows what’s up.