Now that you know my favorite Mardi Gras parades I would like to give you some tips to have a better carnival experience. I was spoiled as a child to have a spot a block from the parade route my family would celebrate Mardi Gras. It would be a big pot luck event with all essentials close by including the restroom! When we no longer did this, we would have to figure it out ourselves.
I have spent years in heat, cold, and rain. The days can be long and here are my personal recommendations for your parade day gear.
Firstly, the weather in South Mississippi is as fickle as a lead star in a soap opera. Each year can host a variety of climate conditions. (And when you think it can’t get any worse, it will!) Some years are extremely cold while others can be hot or even rainy. One year, in the 1950s there were even snow flurries!
Also take into consideration that you will need to get to the route early to have a spot to park and stand. Then afterwards, the traffic leaving can be deadlocked for a good while. Think of possible scenarios and use this list to plan accordingly.
Whether you like hot or cold drinks, alcoholic, caffeinated, sweet, bitter or whatever, you will still need a way to keep them at the temperature you want. It is easiest to fill tumblers with what you need for the day so you can stop and go visiting as most of us do along the parade route. Also do not forget to stay safely hydrated with water as well!
Toilet Paper, Tissues, and Wipes
Plan to have to use the porta potties for the parade. If you are lucky enough to find an establishment with a bathroom, do not count on toilet paper with the amount of foot traffic experienced on parade days. Therefore, bring tissues to use as toilet paper or stuff a roll in your bag before leaving home.
I have seen some bathrooms in devastating states after Mardi Gras. Be prepared for a possible lack of cleanliness and soap. Also think of door handles, sticky hands from king cake, and even the throws from the ground. So keep a small bottle handy on your person throughout the day.
Wagon or Rolling Cart
This is essential if you are planning to park your car away and walk. Or if you are energetic and want to catch the parade in two spots. Use the cart to haul your kids or your loot from the day.
Sunscreen and Sunglasses
Even on years that it is overcast. Being outside all day can cause some wicked face and back of neck sunburns. Be sure to use sunscreen and reapply during the day. I have so many friends that come back to work the day after Mardi Gras looking like a lobster. Sunglasses can also help you avoid being hit with beads while staring at the sun’s glare.
Cute little head pieces have been all the rage over the recent years. Originally, all people riding in the parades had to wear masks. Now everyone wears cute headbands. You may not want to be left out. Otherwise, you can done on a hat to protect your head from the sun or rain or whatever the weather decides to do.
Even if you have a place close by to park, you can still be in for a lot of walking if you want to see others that day or grab something from a shop where the roads are blocked. You will certainly be standing for the length of the parade. It is important to have some comfortable shoes or you every step leaving the fun could be painful.
Hot Hands (If it is Cold)
These are a great way to keep a little warm on cold days. Some of the night parades especially tend to get cold. Keep your feet toasty by putting them in your shoes too!
Some places close for Mardi Gras, and others raise their prices. If you are not set up with a group or pot luck, I would pack a few easy snacks to have that day. Expect crowds at restaurants and possible long waits for food. You do not want to be in a long restaurant line with only mushed moon pies to eat!
Cash and ID
Cash is king on Mardi Gras Day. You can find groups selling snacks and goods around the route. Also it is easier to pay cash quickly in some places while others will only take cash that day. Once, the ATM in downtown Ocean Springs was actually out of cash the night of their parade. So stock up before hand and keep your ID on you if you plan to go anywhere that serves alcohol.
Let the Good Times Roll!
Or in Mardi Gras speak, just go with it. Think ahead and check the weather. Call ahead to places you may want to eat. Ask friends for advice. However, that may not account for all scenarios that may occur. But no matter what happens you are still in for a good time, or at least a fun story.
What are your Mardi Gras parade essentials?
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