Ah, Mardi Gras. The one time of the year where it's socially acceptable to wear an obnoxious amount of plastic beads, break your diets with local foods such as beignets or po-boys, or stay up to the early hours of the morning as enormous, elaborate floats pass by with riders adorned in theatrical costumes. I am no rookie to the Mardi Gras scene thanks to an amazing roommate who opened my eyes to the traditions of her hometown last year. Having survived my first go around, it was of no surprise that I was ready to jump back on the horse when the time rolled around again. Whether this year's Mardi Gras is your first time to the 504 or you're a seasoned NOLA veteran, here are a couple of lessons you should learn after your time in the Big Easy.
1. It's pronounced Mardi "Graw" even though it's spelt like Mardi "Graws"
I'll admit, I still struggle with this one even though I have experienced the craziness that is Mardi Gras. Learn how to properly pronounce the way Mardi Gras is said if you want to avoid the "Oh you're a tourist" look from local residents as well as be corrected every single time you accidentally emphasize that deceiving “s”.
2. Pace Yourself
Remember: Mardi Gras is a marathon...NOT a sprint. A typical Mardi Gras rookie will go all out the first night and be so tired that they can't enjoy the rest of their time. Yes, I am speaking from experience. The energy of Mardi Gras may push you to go above and beyond on your first night but trust me when I say the same things you want to do your first night will be there the second and third night. Have fun but remember you have to wake up to do it all over again the next day.
3. The Jump & Snatch
When it comes to parades, having unique, one of a kind beads thrown at you is basically a given. Each parade has their own set of beads that they throw so catching said beads becomes somewhat of a bragging tool when you proudly display them on you. Enter the jump and snatch. When a float is throwing beads, your best chance of getting them is jumping into the air at the time of release and snatching whatever your hand catches first. This method of bead collecting works...90 percent of the time anyway.
4. The Bourbon Street Buddy System
Oh Bourbon Street. From your flashing lights to your packed streets, no Mardi Gras trip is complete without visiting Bourbon Street at least once. It's one of the most well known destinations for Mardi Gras and also the most crowded. With that in mind, say hello to your savior: the buddy system. While it may seem obvious that staying with your group is imperative, you would be surprised how easily it is to be next to your BFF one second and in a flash be holding hands with a complete stranger. The buddy system is simple: stick to the sidewalks when moving from place to place and in the event you find yourselves caught in the tidal wave that is Bourbon Street, latch on to one another and make your way to the closest, least crowded spot to regroup.
There are countless lessons that one can learn from Mardi Gras as each experience is unique to the individual, however these four lessons are imperative to learn should you have any chance at conquering the Big Easy. Take it from a seasoned Attendee-these lessons will only enhance your time in the 504.