Sometimes, getting an invite to a parade viewing party for Carnival ranks up there with an invitation to a society ball.
Having a spot to watch the pageantry and pomp of a Mardi Gras procession can be a godsend. Let’s face it: Some folks will cultivate friendships with people based on their proximity to a parade route.
And since this is New Orleans, and we specialize in hospitality, what does the parade guest bring to thank the hosts and make the party more fun for everyone? Here are some ideas to help ensure a return invitation for more viewing.
PAPER: Anything with the word paper in the title is always welcome. It’s needed and it doesn’t require refrigeration. Paper plates, paper towels, toilet paper (yes!), paper napkins and even paper bags are appreciated aplenty. And what about wet wipes? Parades are messy, especially when you catch those beer-soaked beads.
PLENTY: Whatever you choose to bring to eat, drink or play, make certain there is enough to share, especially with the host.
THINK AHEAD: Food is welcome! Bring it in disposable containers so your hosts won’t have to wash the dishes or match containers with owners after the fun is over.
BE EARLY: Nothing irritates a parade host like guests showing up (especially with a kid who wants to be on a ladder) as the title float arrives. Parade hosts often haul all the ladders, chairs, tents and tables for the encampment and guard it like a mother hen for hours. Don’t spoil the fun and come at the last minute and expect hotel-like service.
LADDERS AND CHAIRS: Route dwellers usually accumulate a certain amount of ladders, chairs, tables (even sofas) over the course of a few Carnivals. Just because there are 14 ladders in storage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring your own, especially for your own children. Chairs, too. And a throw bag. And don’t come at the last minute and expect to rearrange the setup so your ladder can be front and center.
PLASTIC: Forks, knives, spoons, cups (if you can’t catch one from a float), bags (for beads or trash or leftovers) are all great because they don’t require washing and most are recyclable. With as much trash as Carnival creates, being nice to the planet is always a plus.
LEND A HAND: When it comes time to clean up, clear out and cart away, lend a helping hand. Over the course of the day (or weekend), viewing spot detritus grows at a stealthy but alarming rate. Don’t be those people who grab their throws, button their coats and hit the road. Or if you know you’ll have to leave with the firetrucks (the last vehicles in the parade), volunteer to help set up.
ATTITUDE: For those who don’t enjoy parades (and there’s always one or two in the crowd) or who wish to stay in the living room all day, here’s a message: don’t, just don’t. Leave the bad attitude and the bad gris-gris at home.