Plan Your Transportation
If you are driving in for the day from a suburban hotel, remember that the French Quarter during Mardi Gras weekend is closed to vehicular traffic. Only French Quarter residents and hotel guests with special parking passes can get by the police barricades. Off-site commercial parking lots are expensive and fill up fast, so get there early! Make sure you know how far away your hotel will be, and remember: taxicabs are more difficult to find at this time of year.
It is a good idea to get a map of the city and study the areas you’ll be visiting. New Orleans is a “checkerboard city” – safe neighborhoods can be within blocks of unsafe areas. Your hotel concierge or front desk can help you with route times, traffic and parking.
If you stay in an outlying hotel, don’t depend on them to supply you with transportation to the French Quarter or the parade routes. Although some have shuttles to New Orleans, they are often not in use during Mardi Gras season. Traffic during Carnival is unbelievably congested, and standard routes are often barricaded to redirect the traffic flow.
Even public transportation can be difficult – bus and streetcar routes/schedules often change during Carnival season, so plan ahead and make sure you know when and how to get there and back.
If you want to save yourself some walking, bring a bicycle. Bicycles provide a great means of transportation in areas where cars are not allowed or where parking is too difficult. Just be sure to be cautious when you get into the big crowds, and bring a chain to lock up your bike when you’re not using it.
Don’t Move Other People’s Stuff
If you get there too late, do not move unoccupied chairs or ladders along the parade route to claim a good spot; it isn’t an open space just because you can’t see anybody there. Families tend to congregate at the same place year after year, save their spots, and get to know their parade route neighbors pretty well. Somebody is watching that spot. If you move their chair or ladder, it won’t go unnoticed. Don’t worry, once the parade starts, there’s always a place for everyone.
Respect The Police
These guys are overworked during Carnival. They are the world’s best at crowd control, and during Mardi Gras they have to be tolerant of usually-unacceptable behavior. Long shifts, parade duty, drunks, traffic accidents, lost kids, fights, rowdy crowds, nuisance complaints and a myriad of other incidents keep them busy 24 hours a day. If an officer tells you to do something, cooperate.
It’s okay to consume beer openly on the streets as long as it’s in a can or cup, but you can’t drink from glass or bottles. However, there is a drinking age and it is enforced.
Don’t be sassy or contrary. The police on duty have an efficient system for arresting, booking and carting people off to Central Lockup. It keeps them available for street duty, and it keeps the troublemakers out of the way.
Don’t get overly drunk, be obnoxious or behave irrationally in public; it is not amusing to police, and is a very easy way to get arrested. If anyone told you that’s what Mardi Gras is about, they were wrong and they missed out! Oh, and yes you can be arrested for flashing and public urination as well.
Dress In Costume
It’s the one season of the year when you can dress up as anything imaginable. There are contests for costumes in every part of the city, and the crowd-watching is as much fun as the parades. Have that phone ready for picture taking. You’re going to want to share the creativity.
Part 4 Coming Up!!
(Information from mardigrasneworleans.com)