How to Mardi Gras Like a Local
It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend that I learned that Mardi Gras is a family event. You read that right: family-oriented. New Orleanians even get out of school for the affair so kids can be with their families.
When you think of Mardi Gras, the first thing (for me at least) that comes to mind is Bourbon Street. But, that’s just a small sliver of the celebration. There’s a whole host of parades and events that are fun for all-ages. Who knew?
It’s like homecoming floats on steroids and Disney-like parade trackers to know the routes and where the floats are.
Here’s how we celebrated Mardi Gras 2019 with our friends:
Krewe of Muses
I got into town super late, so this one we watched on TV. Most of the big ones you can stream, which comes in handy if it’s raining. And, your feet won’t hurt for standing on a ladder for hours!
Lunch at Revolution
Oh, baby! The Revolution charcuterie board was hands down the best meat spread I had in my life. The crab beignets were mind boggling. Also, king cake sundaes with a cup of joe to wash it all down was heavenly. I cannot speak enough of this meal. Every time I come to New Orleans, I easily gain five pounds because the food is incredible. Fortunately, I packed a floor length jumpsuit that was forgiving. Would not recommend wearing something tight after that meal!
Bourbon During the Day
You get the thrill of people watching with minimal crowds. Just to say you did it, go during the day before the weekend - that’s how the locals do it.
Condo in Uptown
Our friends rented out a condo for two weeks - which is genius. No need to use portapottys and you have a place to store everything instead of hauling it back and forth to your vehicle. We were right off of St. Charles Street and had a perfect view of the marching bands and floats.
Krewe of Tucks
If you get a kick out of poop emoji stuffed animals, plunger wands and toilet fun dip, this is the parade for you! The parade throws were hysterical. They also hand out TP and the street becomes one giant TPing party. I loved it! It’s supposed to be a satire of the more formal parades and it did not disappointment.
We had the ultimate set up off of the street to host a crawfish boil. We earned our street cred with the fellow tent neighbors and had food to munch on all afternoon. I learned this was everyone’s first time doing this and it will be a repeat next year.
Krewe of Endymion
This parade goes downtown and it is a check the box must see. Because it’s at night, all of the krewe have light-up face masks and the floats are lined with LED TVs. It was intense. It was also packed and we were set up in Uptown, so we were pretty far away from the action. However, the floats are huge, so you can see it from all angles. We were close to Lafayette Square.
Dinner at Balise
We snuck away from the parade about 15 - 20 floats deep. Hate to be a complainer, but my feet were bruised from the walk from Uptown (note to self: do NOT wear sandals). Possibly the best decision of the night because the food at Balise was out of this world. We took a break from our stringent eating habits to try out the crab au gratin, chicken confit and hamburger. 10/10 would recommend. What I wouldn’t recommend is taking an Uber home because it’s inflated.
Krewe of Bacchus
This parade was my favorite. It had just torrential down poured for a few hours, but fortunately, we laid down hay on our turf so the ground wasn’t mud. The storm also scared away the crowd, so it wasn’t as packed as we thought it would be. The floats were amazing. The parade throws were light up swords, blinking necklaces and footballs. Also, my personal opinion was this one had the best of the best marching bands and dance teams. I loved it!
All in all, I had a blast! There’s a whole world of Mardi Gras outside of what’s publicized on TV. It was adorable to see all generations of families there celebrating together. The whole time I was there, I envisioned my niece loving the Scooby Doo floats and seeing her eyes light up when catching toys.
It was my first Mardi Gras, and definitely won’t be my last!