Meet Margaret Vienne, a first-year student in the Masters of Higher Education Administration program. She earned her Bachelors degree in English Writing from Loyola University New Orleans in May of 2013. She hails from Natchitoches, LA and is currently serving as a graduate assistant for activities for Campus Life. Margaret enjoys LSU football, eating pancakes at Louie’s Café, making homemade King Cake, and meeting new students!
Below you will find some of my helpful tips as you prepare to navigate the Big Easy and Baton Rouge this Mardi Gras season.
- Kneaux Your Stuff: Take time to learn a bit about this crazy thing we call Mardi Gras. Your time in the Big Easy will be much more enjoyable if you know a little something about what you are partaking in. New Orleans has a rich history that’s worth exploring. Some key things to learn about include: Flambeauxs, Mardi Gras ladders, history of the krewes, the story behind king cakes, the Mardi Gras Indians, and the meaning behind purple, green, and gold.
- “It’s a Potty in the N.O.L.A.”: So you put your hands up, they’re playing your song, and then realize you need to use the restroom. Bathroom lines can be long so it is wise to identity a nearby restroom prior to the start of the parade or buy a port-a-potty armband that allows you to use a nearby restroom all day. Now, with that being said, the necessary resources at these port-a-potty spots often run out so be sure to bring your own hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
- There’s an App for That: While cell service can be spotty, there are some great apps out there that are good to have during Mardi Gras. WDSU’s Mardi Gras Parade Tracker and Find My Friends are a few of my go to apps during Mardi Gras. Another tech tip: You will have little to no access to outlets while on the route so it is wise to invest in a portable phone charger.
- Early Bird Gets the Beads: Arrive early to the parade route to ensure that you get a good spot. Seasoned Mardi Gras goers and locals have this down to a science. Chances are their spot on the route while be staked out hours prior to your arrival. They know where to be and when to be there to ensure the best parade viewing. Arriving early also allow you to get to know the group next to you, identity the nearest restroom, and grab some sustenance while a friend holds down your spot. Arriving early has its benefits!
- It’s Raining Beads and Doubloons: New Orleans weather can be unpredictable so be sure to check the weather the morning before you head out to the route. Comfortable rubber boots are ideal for rainy carnival weather.
- Let Them Eat King Cake: Restaurants will have long wait times so it is wise to access the local food booths at various churches and businesses along the route. The prices aren’t bad, the wait is bearable, and it is a great way to support the local community. Plus, you don’t want to spend the majority of your day inside of a restaurant when you could be outside experiencing the parades!
- Wear Watcha Wanna: Don’t be afraid to spice up your parade wardrobe with a tutu, fun leggings, a classic Perlis Mardi Gras polo, or any clothing item that gets you in the spirit of the season! You will see plenty of costumes along the route. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking.
- Don’t Take the Road Less Traveled: Always walk in large groups, park in a safe area, and plan your transportation ahead of time. Most major roads around the parade routes will be closed to traffic and it will be important for you to allow time for parking. In the event that you are separated from your group, plan a meeting place for your group. Also, be sure to keep your personal items on the front of your person. A fanny pack is a great Mardi Gras bag! It allows you to keep your items safe and your hands free for prime bead catching.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T…the Police: The police are there to keep you safe. Do not run into the streets while parades are rolling. A bead or moon pie is not worth a crushed hand or foot. Also, be sure you do not relieve yourself in public or get into a fight. Not only do these acts go against the mission and values of LSU, but both will result in time behind bars and anyone put in jail during Mardi Gras weekend is not allowed out until the day after Mardi Gras. This is no joke.
- Pick a Side, Any Side: Someone may ask you if you are neutral ground side or sidewalk side. They are asking you which side of the street you will be viewing the parade from. People take this seriously and rarely deviate from their long-held tradition of watching parades from a specific side. As for me, I identify as a neutral ground side gal!
Happy Mardi Gras, Ya’ll!
New Orleans Parade Schedule http://www.nola.com/mardigras/parades/
Baton Rouge Parade Schedule: http://www.mardigras.com/parades/index.html?location=baton-rouge