Feb 28, 201205:30 AM
Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard
5 Tips for Riding in a Mardi Gras Parade
We’re just past Ash Wednesday, but since the krewes are already planning for next year’s rides, it’s time the riders do, too.
I’m a very lucky girl: I get to ride in two very different Mardi Gras krewes, Muses and King Arthur.
One rides during the day and the other at night, one is coed and the other is all-female, one has been parading for 35 years and the other for 12; riding in such varied parades has taught me a few key things.
1. Wear comfortable shoes. I don’t mean heels or heeled boots that you can stand in all night at a party (though I know of a couple Muses that pull this off). I also don’t mean shoes that you would wear to stand at a Mardi Gras parade. Wear the most comfortable shoes you’ve ever thought about owning, ones with incredible arch and heel support as well as very cushy soles. Remember that it doesn’t matter what they look like, no one is going to be able to see below your waist, and if you’re worried about what your feet look like at the after party then bring shoes to change into.
2. Bring food. Though most krewes and/or float lieutenants will arrange for something for you to eat before and/or during your on the float, it might not be enough. You will most likely be drinking for quite some time before you actually get to throw anything (my average has been somewhere between three and six hours) and nothing keeps you on your feet like some carbohydrates and protein. My favorite things to bring on a float are wraps; you can put anything in them that you like and, wrapped in foil, they’re easy to eat and don’t get all over everything.
3. Know your drinks. Do you like blue Gatorade but detest orange? Do your eyes get all puffy when you drink red wine? Does soda go right through you? You don’t want to have to go to the bathroom on a float – trust me and see below – though you can. You also don’t want to get dehydrated or falling-down drunk (though I do like to imbibe some, the ride itself is often an endorphin high all on its own). So, bring at least two different drinks. Make one your favorite alcoholic cocktail (I bring Jack and ginger ale) and the other either water or “boosted” water (blue Gatorade is my favorite). There is also the third option: the energy drink. Think about including one of these, whichever you like best, for when you pass Jackson Avenue (the St. Charles Avenue route’s halfway point).
4. Go to the bathroom (often) before you board your float. Every float that I’ve ever ridden on has at least one bathroom. However, even if your bathroom is clean, there’s never a good time to go. You will either be placed next to the bathroom (and climbed on or over the whole time as people use the facilities, even if it doesn’t smell) or you’ll have to climb over your other riders or down the stairs on a moving float.
5. Take time to smell the roses. This is my biggest tip and the one that took me the longest to learn. The sound of parade-goers screaming for throws might sound as loud as the inside of the Superdome during a Sproles touchdown, but don’t let it intimidate you. Make certain that you take a moment or two every few blocks to look around you and look someone in the eye – take a picture or video of what it’s like to get you through Lent. Though you might ride every year, there’s no year like your first or your latest, so make your memories count and enjoy the ride!