There are a few opportunities I hardly ever miss in New Orleans.

The short list includes a warm spring afternoon watching baseball at Tulane, a crisp evening gallivanting in the French Quarter sometime around Halloween and any time someone says “Oysters?”

For all that, I’m definitely there.

At one time, the list included being in New Orleans for every day of the Carnival parade season. And to be honest, there were years when I caught beads on St. Charles Avenue for 12 consecutive days. I’ve backed off that schedule in the past decade or so and only gone in for three or four days prior to Mardi Gras.

It’s fun, and it’s enough, despite what my good buddy Timothy Scott Wattigny will tell you.

This year, however, I’ve decided to cut my quota to two days of Carnival on the south shore.

We at Maison Canulette have considered a few options on how to fill the rest of the time. If the weather is nice, we might take a nice long hike through one of our area parks or wildlife refuges. Or maybe a day trip to the Gulf Coast or to someplace just far enough away to make you feel like you’re on vacation.

And then again, a day curled up with a good book sounds appealing right about now.

We’re also considering a visit on Feb. 13 to all of the places in St. Tammany Parish that will celebrate Carnival with parades. That includes Covington, Folsom and Lacombe, and each has its own unique way of celebrating the holiday that truly sets Gulf Coast communities apart from all other American municipalities.

I’ve been to each of three places for Carnival parades before, and while the processions share similarities, they are certainly different.

In Folsom, classic cars, horse-drawn wagons and even tractors take to the streets. It’s this small-town version of a holiday that makes Folsom’s parade refreshing. In Lacombe, the Krewe of Chahta is known for its plentiful throws and the hodgepodge collection of floats, trucks, cars, buggies and marching units.

The parades begin at 1 p.m. in Lacombe and at 1:30 p.m. in Folsom. Those communities are small enough that you won’t have any problem finding them if you go looking (but additional information follows in our Carnival Calendar on Page XXX).

In Covington, there's been an emphasis recently on making the town the centerpiece of the north shore Fat Tuesday experience (and there already was plenty to build upon).

This will mark the 59th year that the Covington Lions Club will parade in downtown Covington, and more than 70 units are expected to take part. Former Covington resident, Lakeshore High graduate and NFL player Treston Decoud, of the Houston Texans, will be the grand marshal.

The parade will start at 10 a.m., and the Mystic Krewe of Covington will follow. At 11:30 a.m., a two-hour party will follow at the Covington Trailhead with ample food and beverages available for purchase.

Awards for the best floats, antique cars and dance teams will be presented, and there will be children’s activities, as well. Partygoers can enjoy the music of King Kreole throughout the late morning and early afternoon.

It’s not likely you can hit all three places on Mardi Gras, but you probably can make two of the three if you plan it correctly. (Say Covington until about 12:30 then head to either Folsom or Lacombe?) If you’re anything like me, you’re certainly considering it.

And why not? It should be a great time. Plus, you’ll be supporting local organizations and businesses by staying local for Mardi Gras. You’ll also save time fighting large crowds and you’ll help build upon a historic tradition that only stands to get bigger on the north shore.

However you celebrate the big day, please do so considerately and safely.

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!