On Parenting At Mardi Gras


With Mardi Gras fast approaching, I’ve found myself once again explaining to non New Orleanians how all of this works, especially as a parent.

A national twin group I’m in whose babies were all due last February asked what everyone’s first birthday plans were. I explained our plans to have a party on the parade route, with cupcakes, fried chicken, and balloons anchored to our ladder. I realized that people were probably thinking I’d be parking my children on Bourbon Street, caddy corner to the Hustler Club, all as I handed the girls a drumstick and some beads to dangle at the tourists. Show me your milk-makers, we’re tired of seeing mom’s!

It had occurred to me before, but not so much until recently, that we really are oddballs. For two weeks a year, we throw caution to the wind, which usually doesn’t go hand in hand with successful parenting. And yet, we manage to make it seem normal. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.Plunger

But really, things that are totally normal here would send others into a complete tizzy. 

We keep our kids up past their bedtime, on purpose, with thousands of strangers. All of that sleep training, undone for blinky beads? You bet.

We allow them to subsist on cinnamon pastries and fast food for nearly two weeks straight. Popeye’s mashed potatoes totally count as real vegetables.

Coozies get pulled out of breast pump and diaper bags and no one bats an eye. We’re dedicated to our children … and keeping our beer cold.

Kids taste alcohol before they’re five. We like to pretend we’re European.

Balancing a baby on a hip, beer in hand, and successfully deflecting beads? Achievement unlocked.

Scaffolding and ladder balance are also master skills. Look kids, no hands!

Dance parties on the street with [drunken] strangers. Sure, honey, go do The Wobble. But stay where I can see you!

Bars are totally appropriate places for toddler bathroom breaks.


Parents will readily hand their children over to friendly faced strangers. Where’d you go to high school? Ben Franklin? Yeah, you can hold my baby.

Snap-n-Pops. Come on, kids, time to hurl explosives at each other!

Moon Pies tossed from strange men on floats totally count as breakfast. Expired 2012? Pffft. Eat up!

Children make great beer retrievers. What? We don’t teach them how to open them … Yet.

Oh thank goodness, a port-a-potty in the back of a pickup truck. Go ahead, honey. Give the nice man the dollar. Don’t worry, I’ve got hand sanitizer.

Public urination is frowned upon. But if a kid’s gotta go, car tires and bushes are fair game.

Ok, so, yeah. Maybe we do parent a little differently a few weeks a year. Somehow it feels normal, and despite all of it seeming counter-intuitive to the unfamiliar, most of us turn out just fine. But really, can you imagine things any other way?

Lindsay is a native New Orleanian, displaced only by her years at Mississippi State, where she earned a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries and a minor in English. She came home shortly after Katrina, to work as a zookeeper and be a part of the rebuilding of her beloved city. She dragged her husband Drake, a Tennessee native, along with her. Their son Bennett joined the family in 2010, and in 2014 they welcomed identical twin girls, Genevieve and Kellen Clair. She now works full time as an Environmental Scientist and part-time as NOM’s resident Jill of All Trades. Powered by espresso, cake, and craft beer, her happy place is on a beach or in the woods. Need to identify a plant, tree, or animal? Lindsay’s a wealth of random knowledge. She loves to cook and sprinkle a little glitter on everything.


  1. This is so true, and funny! 99% of the time I am primarily a mom with “me” on the back burner but I Mardi Gras I have the chance to perfectly blend those two aspects of my persona. I guess I does sound horrifying to some people, but I just stocked up on gummy fruit snacks, junky single serve cereal cups, single serve Mac and cheese cups, and Capri sun for Mardi Gras. I remember last st Patricks day my 3 year old’s favorite thing was getting to pee in a port o let in the back of a pickup truck!

  2. It’s how I do. 🙂

    Just keep the kids away from those clouds of slightly blue smoke that smell kind of funky and don’t take your kids to adult parades and then get upset at the parades.

    Everything else is gravy. 🙂

  3. You NAILED IT. “Parents will readily hand their children over to friendly faced strangers. Where’d you go to high school? Ben Franklin? Yeah, you can hold my baby.”

  4. Perfect…..Born and raised here and at 15, I was in charge of the blender because “my pina coladas were the best”. LOL!!! Now my 17 year old and 10 year old are old pros at parades. People who think that Mardi Gras is NOT a family event have only watched it on tv or on Bourbon Street. Thanks for this!!!

  5. Lindsey, One of Curtis’ friends that I am friends with as well since grade school had your blog about Mardi Gras posted . I didn’t know it was your blog until I read it. I grew up in New Orleans and we would go out on the Ave. ( St.Charles Ave ) for all of the parades and on Mardi Gras day we would go and set up in front of St. Charles Ave. Presbaterian Church for the whole day. I had the best time and things were a lot more simple then they are now, but Mardi Gras brings out the most fun in people. When my own kids were young, we went out of town for many Mardi Gras seasons and I feel like I robbed them of a New Orleans tradition. Going to a parade in Mandeville just does not hold a candle to a parade in New Orleans. Glad you are letting your precious children enjoy the real thing.

  6. I absolutely loved this and sent it to all my out of town friends who were appalled on their first Mardi Gras visit here. “You put your kids on top of ladders? Doesn’t it have a warning label not to stand or sit there”?. You did miss the part about taking them out in bad weather when we’d never do it otherwise. Raining? Cold? Yes, we’re still going. LOL.It’s been years, but I can still stoop down to get beads out of the gutter with a kid on my hip in my 60’s.

    Thanks for a great laugh — so true.

  7. All so true! I remember having to miss one Mardi Gras when (in the Dark Ages) my brother and I and one cousin all had the measles. We watched the parades on TV, with our mother and aunt standing behind the set and throwing beads. Other than that year, we were on St Charles Ave, rain or shine, no matter how cold, with ladders in place and coolers on the ground behind. And if you’re really thirsty and have spilled the last soft drink, a little beer will do, even if you’re only seven.

  8. yes I have raised all my kids this way and they seem to be ok. atleast that’s my story and i’m sticking to it. mine are 26, 24 and 14. loved the story and it’s absolutely true. only a true mardi gras person will understand this one.

  9. I LOVE THIS!!! Im from a VERY small town in Alabama between Birmingham and Huntsville…but my husband and his family are from Nola…(Metairie) the first time my husband mentioned taking the kids to Mardi Gras I was shocked! I had made up in my head the exact image you described…I reluctantly agreed we would take the kids after he tried explaining it was truly a huge family event and it all depended on WHERE you go to see the parades… Well after that I can say I’m hooked for life! Our kid start the countdown right after christmas haha! I may not be originally from there but let me tell you…Nola is absolutely in my soul! Do you mind if i share this on Facebook??

  10. Love this! I believe a candy apple is considered a piece of fruit for the day for a kid and you forgot that we let our kids get hyped up on cotton candy. LoL


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