If you have recently moved to New Orleans, Mardi Gras can be extremely intimidating and confusing at first. In fact, some of us (like me) don’t care too much for the season. That said, if you are interested in enjoying Mardi Gras with kids, New Orleans Mom is here to help! While you shouldn’t plan to sleep a lot during parade season (yes, you need to let go of nap time), you should expect for New Orleans memories to last a lifetime. Over the years we have put together 22 tips for enjoying Mardi Gras as a beginner, a list of insider tips from the parade route, the 10 king cakes in New Orleans you have to try and even how to make an easy king cake at home with kids.
I Don’t Enjoy Mardi Gras … There I Said It
I have been living in New Orleans for 10 years now, so I have been to a few parades (both French Quarter and family ones). If you are a tourist, Mardi Gras is a must (at least once), and you will enjoy it, I promise. Now, as a local, I understand that watching a parade and getting beads is fun but come on! I don’t enjoy Mardi Gras.
I could say… Well, I am not from here, so I missed all the sentimental meaning of it, but a lot if not many people here were not born here and still love it.
I could go… “It is a cultural thing,” but growing up so close to Brazil and their huge Carnivals… that is not a good excuse either.
I am not a party animal, granted, but neither are the friends that go to every single parade they can.
Let me give you a list to “prove” my case, if I may:
- It is a real pain in the arse to find parking and then you are stuck for-e-vaaaa there until you can leave.
- Bathroom stops are very inconvenient and gross (in general).
- If you want decent food/drinks/chairs you must carry a two-day camping trip worth of stuff.
- You waste a whole day between getting there early enough to find a “good” spot and getting out of the madness (plus recovery time once home).
- School schedules are ridiculous. I can’t believe we close early and FOR A WEEK to go to parades. Really? I am honestly curious how do people with 9-5 jobs handle it. We are cutting the learning short to go party? We just had a break… and we will get another one soon in Spring.
- Don’t even get me started with traffic… traffic in general around any are remotely close to a parade… again… just to party.
- School break doesn’t even make sense since the parades are done by Tuesday and the breaks keep going till the following week, when if any days off it should be two days the week before and the two days of that week… is feels like it is for the sake of not working.
- The AMOUNT of trash…. Not only the one people/floats leave on the street (I know there are cleaning crews but still all that goes to landfill), but the stuff kids bring home… so.much.stuff. And most of it lights up!!! Yay!
- Then we have the late parades that make it feel like it drags forever… I can go on….
Adding the “special” sauce.
All these without talking about how much fun is to put up with all this WITH KIDS! “I am hungry!” (5 seconds after you set up for the day) …”I need to pee!”… “I am tired!”… “this is too loud!”…. “I didn’t catch anything!”… and every version of this that you can imagine…
You are a mean one…
Listen I know I am a big Mardi Gras Grinch; I’ll take it. However, I participate (some) in order to give my children, the opportunity to enjoy it. Funny enough my daughter is one of those kids that covers her ears THE WHOLE TIME because she finds it too loud, and my son is always mid-way on a ladder (I guess too tall for him) too busy grabbing the sides of it to catch anything. Usually, after one parade they are done for the season. I’m good with it.
I personally happily agree to go to one (you know Muses and all that Jazz on Thursday night), by a friend’s house with bathroom and food close by and a place to escape if the noise becomes too much for my kids. One is fun and enough, for everyone apparently. I would be down if it was a weekend thing but it is way too long. I am seriously considering becoming one of those people who get out of town for Mardi Gras.
I know a lot of you will not agree with me, but this is how some of us (I know it’s not a lot) feel about Mardi Gras.