Updated: May 8, 2022
With Fat Tuesday right around the corner, moms across New Orleans are getting prepared for parades with the kids! Whether you're a first-timer or a regular parade attendee, you know it takes a lot of preparation to make sure your kids are safe, hydrated, and able to use the restroom at a moment's notice. Attending parades with a kid can be tricky, but thankfully we have a group of experienced women that have done this with some of their children since infancy.
Below are some of the best tips from the ladies of Black New Orleans Mom for surviving Mardi Gras with kids:
Precut fruit /granola bars
Insulated water bottle
Nursing cover or double shirt method for breastfeeding
Hakka for pumping on the fly
Baby carrier/umbrella stroller
Ride along toys
Mini bottles of wine/spirits (purchase outside of the French Quarter area to avoid tourist tax)
Safety wrist cuffs for smaller kids
Write your number on your child’s wrist/inside their shirt
Stick an AirTag in their pocket
Park near family homes or in well-lit areas
Leave valuable items at home!!!!
For smaller kids, bringing a ladder really helps but be sure to set up early in the morning to guarantee your spot
Pack light but wise. Bring a cooler or backpack that can store hot and cold foods for the whole family
Check the weather before heading to the parade and dress appropriately
Have a meeting spot selected if your kids can't find you
Make sure you're practicing social distancing
Stay close to your children at all time, as children love to wander
Dress your kids in bright colors to help them stand out in a crowd
Encourage your kids to have as much fun as possible while being super conscious of their surroundings. I tell my kids "Wild out here but do it responsibly".
Some tips for packing snacks for the parade:
In a thermal bag with straps:
Fruits that are easy to peel and don’t need to be washed
Snacks that come in resealable containers to avoid messes and spills
CLEAR juice pouches with straws. Not trying to get red juice all over the outfits and shoes!
Variety snack-size bags of everyone’s favorite chips
Pre-made sandwiches, chilled overnight, in separate snack bags. (Remember to write specifics on the towel inside the bag, instead of on the outside of the Ziploc bag so the marker doesn’t smear.)
Frozen bottles of water. They’ll keep everything cool inside the bag and when they melt, you can drink them to stay hydrated!
Plastic bags to use as trash bags (or an actual trash bag!)
Big reusable bags to store throws
Sunblock (no matter what you think the weather will be)
Mini First Aid Kit
Headphones and tablet (just in case your kid is a first-timer and turns out being less than impressed)
Hand sanitizer and hand wipes
Some of the ladies also shared some great tips for families that aren't doing parades this year!
For those moms who are not parading this year, you can still have a great time with Mardi Gras festivities at your home.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Dress up in Mardi gras colors and/or costumes (wigs and all).
2. Play Mardi Gras Music while the kids are getting ready and throughout the day.
3. Have the kids decorate their own Mardi Gras floats using a box. Party City has Mardi Gras wagon decorating kits, as well.
4. Get beads and trinkets from The Dollar Store or a Mardi Gras store in your neighborhood and let the kids parade around in the house with their decorated float. (If you have multiples, have them take turns being the spectator, the float rider, and band member (or my daughter's favorite, the "dancing girls").
5. Last but not least, have your favorite Mardi Gras food that you and the kids can eat throughout the day. My kids' favorites are hot dogs, red beans and rice, and spaghetti and meatballs. Oh, and don't forget the king cake!!!
Some of us are understandably still a little wary of big crowds, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate Mardi Gras with our little ones!
Dress up. Part of the fun of Mardi Gras is dressing up in colorful clothing and costumes. Even if you're staying home, pull out that purple, green, and gold polo anyway! In 2021 my daughter and I put on our unicorn onesies on Mardi Gras day and immediately felt more festive.
Make a float. Creating shoebox floats is a long-standing tradition for children in New Orleans. However, large cardboard boxes can also be used, allowing your child to fit inside. Attach some rope, and they can wear it. Continue arts and crafts by creating masks to wear, too.
Eat good. Parade food is yummy and easy to have at home. Grill your family some hamburgers and hotdogs, get that delicious pan of chicken wings, and indulge in some king cake and cotton candy. All good celebrations have good food!
Catch the parade...on TV! Local channels dedicate the morning to broadcasting parades from all around the metro area. See King and Queen Zulu and The Marching 100 from the comfort of your couch
Create your playlist. Set the mood with popular songs New Orleanians love to listen to during Carnival Season. Some of our favorites are:
"Do Whatcha Wanna" by The Rebirth Brass Band
"Big Chief" by Professor Longhair
"They All Ask'd for You" by The Meters
"Mardi Gras in New Orleans" by The Original Pinettes Brass Band
"Carnival Time" by Al Johnson
"New Orleans Girl" by PJ Morton
That rounds up our best tips for "Surviving Mardi Gras with Kids". Be sure to share what tips helped you the most in the comments below!