Mardi Gras parades are an annual New Orleans tradition for young and old alike. An author for MardiGrasNewOrleans.com admits to feeling guilty for dragging their teenage children to parades, as they no longer had the excuse that they went “for the kids”.
Native New Orleanians can advise visitors as to the parades with the best throws and the best viewing locations for many Mardi Gras parades. A visit to the NOLA.com forums is a great interaction with locals and natives yearning to return.
There is a basic code of etiquette for Mardi Gras parade viewers. Parade-viewing regulars respect others and the unwritten code.
It is Acceptable to Camp and Reserve Viewing Sites
When searching for a location to watch a Mardi Gras parade, hopefully close enough to catch throws, be aware of “reserved” areas. No, these marked off spaces were not licensed by the city of New Orleans. However, the group reserving these areas more than likely followed local etiquette by camping out overnight. Give them their space and don’t feel entitled to intrude because a sidewalk is public property.
On the plus side, hanging out near a large blocked-off Mardi Gras parade viewing area MAY earn a visitor a bite of a local delicacy from the picnic lunch. New Orleanians are well known for their hospitality.
Please Be Aware of Small Children
Yes, it is perfectly acceptable for childless adults to enjoy parades. Remember, though, that Mardi Gras parades are family events. Stepping on small children in order to catch a parade throw is considered rude in all parts of the world, and could earn the “stepper” an assault or abuse charge.
A great way to make friends, and keep small children happy, it to occasionally share Mardi Gras throws. The child will love the giver, the parents will appreciate the gesture, and neighboring parade viewers will enjoy the lack of tear-filled wails.
Stay Behind the Barricades
Mardi Gras floats are large, heavy vehicles. They have difficulty stopping quickly and can cause severe bodily harm to the parade viewer who just “had to have that doubloon”.
Staying behind the barricades prevents hospital visits and uncomfortable police and insurance reports.
“Throw Me Something, Mister”
This is the best and only socially acceptable means to scoring Mardi Gras parade throws. There is no need to barter with the float riders by exposing flesh. Public nudity is illegal in New Orleans, and while NOPD’s finest are rather busy with a lot of things during Mardi Gras, they tend to enforce the law in family-friendly areas.
Enjoy the creativity and craftsmanship of the Mardi Gras krewes at the various parades throughout New Orleans and all of Louisiana.