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10 Things You Must Do to Stay Safe at Mardi Gras

New Orleans Mardi Gras. Costumed revelers in J...

New Orleans Mardi Gras. Costumed revelers in Jackson Square. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10 things you must do to stay safe at Mardi Gras

1. Don’t travel alone, if you are going to walk the streets especially in the Quarter it is best to have a companion, unless you are on the uptown route of the parades where it’s very safe.

2. Don’t go to any of the Mardi Gras Indian parades or celebrations. There have been so many shootings at these things that it is not worth risking it. Sorry. You can go to Zulu on Fat Tuesday and see some great costumes and such, but the Indians do not go on the traditional parade routes, they go through predominantly black neighborhoods where unfortunately crime is rampant.

Until New Orleans becomes a city where shootings are a rarity stay away from any place that there is a risk. If you go to Zulu stay away from the corner of Jackson and St. Charles Ave. Crowds are ridiculous here.

3. Don’t drink – yes, I know this is Mardi Gras and hate to be a killjoy but we are talking about staying safe. When I say “don’t drink” I mean don’t get drunk. OK, have a beer or two while you are wandering around but I wouldn’t go beyond that.

OK, well, maybe a Bloody Mary but it has to be a really good one that’s worth pouring alcohol in your body, like the one at the Pirate’s Alley Pub near Jackson Square where they make the BM right in front of you from scratch with none of that bottled mix. If there is such a thing as a healthy BM this would be it.

Anyway who says you have to drink or get drunk to have fun. You don’t. And another problem with drink is that at some point you are going to have to pee and places to pee are not readily available. So keep the drinking of really anything to a minimum, including water and soft drinks.

4. If you are a woman (or a maybe an “evolved” kinda guy) carry no purse, wear pants and keep what you need in your pockets. If you wear pants wear the kind you can button the pocket where you keep your wallet or keep it in your front pocket. I have been to many Mardi Gras throughout my life and have never had my pocket picked and don’t know anyone who has had this happen to them. But it does happen especially in the crowds downtown and in the Quarter.

5. Don’t challenge any body or piss anybody off, just walk away. Of course, if you see someone being harassed step in if you have to and there are cops everywhere so call them over for a hand. But chances are you will never see this.

You will find that the people in the crowds are usually very polite and well-behaved. You won’t see rioting and people going wild or really see any belligerence, if you do it is rare.

I don’t know why we in the city are like this, you would think with all the people tens of thousands of people in the streets there would be problems, but except for the random stupid shootings, again very rare, as they are usually targeting someone specific, you are pretty safe.

6. Despite what you might think the Quarter is safe if you stick to main drags like Bourbon St. Royal Street, Jackson Square. The quieter less-travelled streets are the ones you need to be concerned with. Don’t walk them alone and not at night. If confronted run as fast as you can screaming wildly the whole time. If you can’t run give them your money. Another reason to stay in shape.

7. Wear comfortable shoes if you are going to be out on the streets for any time at all. What does this have to do with staying safe? Don’t know, just thought I’d throw it in there as it is a consideration. Nothing more miserable than having to walk around in ill fitting shoes for hours.

And here is the weird thing: people walk distances during the Mardi Gras season that they would never even consider walking normally. Can you imagine walking from uptown to the French Quarter? Well, people do it during carnival, all the time. How bout walking down to the Quarter then walking back? Yep, people do it.

8. To stay really safe and avoid the raucous crowds don’t go to the Quarter especially on the Friday and Saturday before Fat Tuesday. This is when there are a lot of out of town people many of whom will be leaving Sunday or Monday because they can’t get off from their jobs to stay for Fat Tuesday. There is a crush of people in Quarter then. It’s pretty amazing if you like that kinda thing. And many people do.

9. See the parades on the uptown route on St. Charles Avenue between Napoleon and Melpomene. This is more family friendly and where most families hang out.

But I have seen families in the Quarter on Mardi Gras, yes, with little kids and it’s not really as scandalous as the media makes it out to be. And you will see some of the most amazing costumes down there. You will see more drunk people but not a lot. And it’s actually kinda fun, well, a lot of fun. But stay sober. You want to see the show, you don’t want to be the show.

10. I’ll say it again — Don’t get drunk – That is really some of the best advice I can provide to you stay safe at Mardi Gras.

And be sure to have a Happy Mardi Gras!! That’s really what’s important.

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