Mardi Gras survival guide
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 11:02
It’s a magical time of year when king cake becomes a diet staple, a single glittered shoe becomes the most coveted prize and there’s a block party on St. Charles Avenue every day and night. Here at The Maroon, we care about you. We want all you beginners and trying-again-ers to actually make it to that Fat Tuesday finish line without too many scrapes (and hopefully your dignity, too). So, we compiled answers from Carnival veterans and experts to give you the do’s and don’ts, the go-for-it’s and don’t-you-even’s of Mardi Gras. Take notes, take a deep breath and get your metallic party pants on, because Mardi Gras doesn’t stop for anybody.
- Arthur Hardy: Author of Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide
- Dr. Sue Mennino: Sociology of Mardi Gras professor
- Callie Gray: Psychology and Spanish senior
- Camille Fiess: Sociology senior
Top Five Tips:
1. HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE. It’s a chaotic time and people will be changing their minds. Don’t get frustrated if your plans go out the window. No matter where you are, fun things will be happening, so let it go, take it all in and laissez le bon temps rouler!
2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Drink lots of water, eat every meal, get a good night’s (or good afternoon’s) sleep and pace yourself. The mantra is “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
3. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM. Don’t go anywhere alone. Stick with at least one person all night, and have a meeting spot for your group in case anyone gets separated.
4. RESPECT THE LAW. The NOPD officers are working 14-hour shifts and have a lot of nonsense to deal with. Do whatever they say, and don’t mess with their horses unless you want to get kicked in the face (it’s happened before!).
5. BE SMART. Mardi Gras attracts big crowds, and some of those people won’t have your best interest at heart. Keep your stuff on you at all times and don’t trust someone you probably shouldn’t.
What to Wear:
Mardi Gras is the one time of the year when anything goes. Don’t be afraid to go all out; we promise there will always be someone more ridiculous looking than you! But remember you’ll be stuck in that crazy ensemble all day, so make sure you’re comfortable. Wear layers so you can easily make the transition from day to night (and night to bar). Check the weather, and bring a poncho if there’s any chance of rain.
Walking is part of the adventure of Mardi Gras. You’ll see some crazy things along the way and will meet a few new friends. Biking is another option. It’s faster than walking, and you can lock up right along the parade route. The streetcar will only take you as far as Napoleon Avenue, and with blocked roads, traffic and parking, our panel agrees that driving is more of a hassle than a convenience. As for cabs, you’ll find them near most tourist hotspots, like hotels or restaurants.
There will be a wait for restaurants, but fortunately there are food vendors along the parade route. Chances are you'll want the hot, greasy food being sold around you. Just in case, or if you're strapped for cash, it may be a good idea to pack some snacks. Keep in mind that not all food will last through the heat and may get gross throughout the day, so pre-packaged goodies are your best bet.
What to Bring:
1. CASH. Most food vendors along the parade route don’t take credit cards, and you may need a few dollars to use some bathrooms. Bring enough to get you through the night, but don’t bring more than you need.
2. CELL PHONE CHARGER. While you should always be with a friend, a cell phone is crucial in case of separation. Bring a charger as a backup, and go to a safe, public place where you can plug your phone in.
3. TOILET PAPER. You won’t regret this one. It’s almost a guarantee that any public bathroom is going to be disgusting and out of TP.
4. DISPOSABLE CAMERA. After Fat Tuesday passes by and you’ve recuperated from your Carnival shenanigans, you’ll get a kick out of reliving Mardi Gras moments that you may have forgotten about.
5. WATER. At a time like this, hydration is your very best friend.
What Not to Bring:
1. YOUR GOOD SHOES. Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind ruining. Rain boots are recommended since the parade route can get pretty muddy. Nobody is going to look at your feet, trust us.
2. CHAIRS. While it may seem like a good idea at the time, you will get tired of carrying chairs around. Plus, let’s be honest, you won’t be sitting down much, anyways.
3. VALUABLES. Don’t bring anything you’d be devastated to see broken or lost (or thrown up on).
4. YOUR PETS. They’re not allowed on the parade route, but every year there seems to be a sad pit bull tied to a light post on the neutral ground. Leave Fido at home.
5. GLASSWARE AND BOTTLES. Why do you think Mardi Gras cups were invented?!