Coming off of hosting the Super Bowl, the feedback about our great city has been exactly what I would expect (except for that pesky black out which, let’s be honest, definitely spiced up what might have been the most boring Super Bowl thus far). Of course, it’s been said that we corner the market in terms of our food, music, and general party atmosphere, but it finally leaked to the media that our real hospitality comes from our people.
were said to have some of the friendliest locals, which I’m sure could be
confusing to the average American watching our climbing murder rate, old
footage of looters from Katrina that will forever follow us, reality shows
about swamp people (that for some reason gets associated with the actual city
of New Orleans), and drunk people showing their boobs in order to get plastic
beads! The media really does a great job
of showing who we really are (please sense the sarcasm in my voice).
The reality is that, for the most
part, we are a city filled with tight-knit families that extend well beyond
genetics. We are a loyal group whether
it is loyalty to a city that was once under water and could very well be there
again with each hurricane season or loyalty to a football team that gave us
nothing but heartache until “the Brees” blew in. No one loves talking about New Orleans more
than a New Orleanian, giving tourists the inside scoop on local hot spots,
little known “holes in the walls,” the truth about Katrina, or any topic related
to “ya mama and dem.”
I am hopeful that the good press of
our city will continue through this week with so many tourists staying, and
coming to join, in order to experience what we are known for - Mardi Gras! Once again, when using the media as a source
of reference, you might be misled in terms of what to expect. I’d like to squash a few stereotypes and put
some local rules to the Mardi Gras season so you can make the most out of this
week and fit in with the locals!
Gras actually does not happen on Bourbon Street. It is true that many people party there after
the parades, although most of the people on Bourbon are tourists since most of
the locals are on the balconies above!
Regardless, the reality is that New Orleans has a lot to offer off of
Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras has everything to offer nowhere near it.
not flash, especially for beads. This is
definitely something that someone from out of town started and everyone who
ever visited followed suit. Locals do not do this.
not show up five minutes before a parade and stand in front of the crowds of
people who slept on the route the night before in order to conserve their spot
– you will get your ass kicked and if you don’t, you should. Save your own spot or stand in the back.
not throw beads at the floats as they pass.
The idea is for the riders to throw to us and because of that they are
not expecting to have something throw at them.
You will not look cool or funny, but you will look like an idiot who
does not get out much.
not follow the float down the street, unless you know someone riding on that
float. There will be another float right
behind the one that just passed. Wait
patiently and get out of the street.
not fight a child for a pair of beads; actually, do not fight anyone. Beads cost nickels and dimes and are
essentially worth nothing.
yourself with the drinking. On Mardi
Gras day and the weekend before, most people are out on the route for hours
before the parade even starts. In order
to make it through the whole day (and the whole season,) pace yourself. Do drink water and eat when you can!
not wear flip flops if you are planning to go to Bourbon Street (that is just a
rule no matter when you are here) and, for God’s sake, do not walk around bare
your survival kit – pack a backpack and include the following:
roll of toilet paper
or Excedrin Migraine – headaches are the worst
a sandwich or some kind of snack if you are not packing a full lunch
koozie in case you switch to beer
few plastic cups in case you, or a friend, need to make a drink on the route
bottle or two of water – stay hydrated
on the weather, pack accordingly – a sweatshirt if it’s cooler weather – as the
sun goes down, it will get colder; an umbrella if rain is predicted at
all. Pack for the entire day into the
night… not just the day time.
of whatever alcohol or beer you are drinking.
Tip: if you do not want to drag a cooler around all day, wrap your beer
can in foil and then put it in a zip lock bag with some ice. This will keep your beer cold if you do not
want to drag an ice chest around all day!
Also, to conserve space, put your alcohol in empty water bottles.
what, when you come to New Orleans, you will have a blast and if you stick with
some of the local traditions, it will be even better! The Saturday before Mardi Gras, go to Orleans
Avenue and spend the day people watching and cooking out before Endymion. On that Sunday, watch Thoth on Magazine Street
and then walk up to St. Charles Avenue to catch Bacchus. If live music is your thing, go hear some of
the best cover bands New Orleans has to offer downtown at Bacchus Bash before
watching Bacchus, which rolls right down the street. Head to Spanish Plaza on Lundi Gras for an
outdoor concert and to see Rex arrive and enjoy a huge crowd of locals and the
beautiful city setting. Even in
Metairie, parades are rolling every night, so if a more family atmosphere and
smaller crowds are more your speed, that’s the place for you.
advantage of the locals – we love to make new friends. Enjoy everything Mardi Gras has to offer and
then you can head to Bourbon Street!