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.
I was going to repost but didn’t after reading the article. Mardi Gras has a meaning behind it. Schools have a certain amount of days allotted for children to have off. If they didn’t have off for Mardi Gras another holiday would be extended. Do what you will with the time your children have off. Is Mardi Gras overrated ? For the most part yes. Barely any beads and all the headache to get somewhere to be left with a disappointed child. It can be fun when your whole family participated but that includes living nearby . Everyone gathers and eats then walks to the parade and back.
Other than that it’s a bunch of people drinking and having a “good time.”
Once upon a time ago the floats were nice to just look at.
completely and totally agree. I do not understand the appeal of going through all you eloquently described above to fight over cheap plastic (dirty) trash. And the traffic…. I can’t even. I’m glad it’s a good boom for the city in terms of tourism dollars, but just give me a slice of king cake and let me stay home.
I’m not a huge Mardi Gras fan either. I do love Endymion and enjoy that day, but one day is usually enough for me. Years ago I started pondering why I didn’t love Mardi Gras. As a child growing up in the city, I adored it. My mom would take us to all the parades. We would literally leave one and get in the car and drive as quickly as we could to not miss another one rolling on the same night. Why was i suddenly no longer enchanted with this crazy, beloved iconic culture? Then it hit me – It was once I became a mother. My childhood Mardi Gras didn’t include gunshots, people trampling over you, fear of children being snatched, etc. My mom had one worry – would one of the kids run after the float. I started disliking Mardi Gras when I realized my kids were not enjoying it. I would bring them because it was expected and almost as obligatory as ashes on Wednesday. So I discovered one year that Chuckie Cheese was open and as much as I loathed that place, my kids loved it. So for many of their childhood years our Mardi Gras day was spent with the rat. Today as a grandmother I can honestly I’ve yet to get my adoration back for Mardi Gras, but I do enjoying going to some parades, but only the ones with great bands. I love the music and not so interested in dance troopes or floats. My adult children seemed to be split. One has definitely been bitten by the MG bug and my 7 year old grandson loves it. The other is more, “I can take it or leave it.” At the end of the day, it’s great to have the option to take it or leave it. Usually I partake in some of it, but leave most of it.
1. The biggest thing ruining new orleans mardi gras are the parents putting their kids on ladders.
2. If you leave with hardly any beads you are seriously at the wrong parades. We have to being a wagon to tote all the beads and other throws we get.
3. King cake is overrated. There I said that.
I’m another who doesn’t love Mardi Gras….when the kids were little, we did a couple of parades and that was plenty. Now that they’ve grown up, I’m content to stay home and stay out of the madness. I just can’t take the madness, the drunken fools trying to mow down small children for cheap trinkets or the noise!
Everything you said! Not to mention the fact that this holiday of debauchery (show me something) and greed (throw me something) is nestled between two of the holiest (Christmas + Easter). Just odd. Not my thing at all for the reasons you mentioned. I do it for the kids but we keep it low key and not in New Orleans. I’ll take the days off of school anytime to spend with my kiddos though; wether we stay home and make slime or travel.
I was a Mardi Gras lifer…I’ve never been out of town during the “holiday” to trek to Disney or Steamboat or 30A.
However, I cannot stand it anymore. Although I enjoyed it thoroughly as a young “adult” and when my kids were kids, I simply don’t see the point now.
It’s utterly ridiculous for all of the reasons (and then some) mentioned herein.
We live in a different time and in a very different world and sadly, the innocence of Mardi Gras past has been taken from us.
If I never go to another parade or pay $5 to pee, it’ll be too soon.
I don’t know if it’s a function of age or something else but I am done. I still do laugh at the folks who change the Christmas lights to glow purple, green & gold so they can put off storing them until it’s time for the switch to thanksgiving.
I guess a saving grace is that it’ll be crawfish season soon…
Do us a favor and just leave. 10 years…ha ha ha!
Jali: Mardi Grss was purposely set up between Easter for a reason
It is an old, old holiday set up by the Catholic Church to create balance
There are cycles of enjoying life and cycles of living with less such as lent
People should take the time to read the history of Mardi Gras before insulting it
It is probably one of the few historical traditions that is still adhered to
Other parts of the world are so envious of the celebration and the tourism dollars that it brings in that they try to emulate Mardi Gras. They emulate Mardi Gras to no avail
“Been in New Orleans 10 years now”…it’s time to leave and go back home.