Mardi Gras Parades 201: New rules to live by

You may have noticed New Orleans marches to the beat of its own drummer. During Mardi Gras, that multiplies tenfold.

Rule 1: Given the choice between cold hard cash and a necklace of plastic beads, there is no chance you will go home richer.

Mardi Gras 2011 Uptown New Orleans marching band

Beads become the currency of the town this week of the year (and probably more). Even the military marching bands pride themselves in their bead collections! The best time we had was handing out every necklace we caught that morning to a high school marching band’s brass and woodwind sections, which they piled on top of their uniforms.

By contrast, cash is only necessary when you crave a Po’ Boy, a daiquiri or a candied apple.

Rule 2: Dress in your Sunday best. (Green, purple and yellow, of course.)

Mardi Gras 2011 costume

Your outfit doesn’t need a theme—nor does it have to be out of the ordinary! But we find dressing in costume facilitates livelier conversation. As part of this horrific getup, you’ll want a bag for all the beads you catch, pockets for keys/ID/cash (don’t bother with a purse, ladies), a zip-up hoodie and your least favorite pair of old sneakers.

If you didn’t bring (in)appropriate clothing, don’t stress. You’re likely to catch plenty of worthy accessories as they fly off floats, like these toilet seat sunglasses.

Rule 3: Don’t get frustrated with big crowds; your patience will pay off in new friendships.

Mardi Gras 2011 Uptown New Orleans

You could argue all day whether Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent disasters that befell the city are what made the residents of New Orleans infinitely kinder people. But there is no denying that people in New Orleans are better able to sympathize and identify with each other than your average American city. This isn’t Southern Hospitality—this is New Orleans hospitality, and you’ll notice the difference.

Tara for TKGO

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