How To Enjoy Mardi Gras Like A Pro

How To Enjoy Mardi Gras Like A Pro

Not all of us are locals, but all of us can act like them with a little bit of help.

epgainey
epgainey
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Mardi Gras. It's synonymous to Bourbon Street, downtown, and the French Quarter. Well, it is to those not from NOLA. As a local myself, someone who's been through 18 Mardi Gras, I've never gone downtown to watch a parade. I've watched it along St. Charles Avenue between two streets called Napoleon Ave. and Louisiana Ave. So, while you may be inclined to run straight for that hand grenade and the 5-cent bead on the ground, here's a little bit about how I, a local, celebrate one of the most festive holidays of the year.

1. Parades

Lauren Chestnut

While every parade is good and fun to someone not from NOLA, the best of the best are the weekend before -- from Thursday to Sunday — Mardi Gras Day. My personal favorites are Muses, Krewe D'Etat, Thoth, and Tucks. And, do shout throw me something mister/miss, but do not shout anything raunchy at the floats. They normally don't hear it, but that's not gonna make them throw you anything better than a 5-cent bead. Also, while talking about beads, I can spot a tourist straight away if they dive to the ground to pick up a bead they didn't catch -- there will be more thrown, and the ones you catch are better than the ones in the party gravy (don't ask, it's a local term).
Here's a list of the parades: https://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/parades/. The best ones are Uptown, and, if you show up anywhere else, don't say I didn't warn you.

2. Location

Beads on beads

Elizabeth Gainey

You need your camp. Your home base. Somewhere to come back to after your eight miles of walking around. Wherever you set up, you're gonna want at least a few folding chairs, and maybe a couch you don't mind leaving on the route after the weekend has ended. Maybe splurge for a canopy for the rain and sun. And, I would use some of those Styrofoam coolers while you're at it. The main key is to bring stuff you don't care about in case they get destroyed. While downtown is the most popular spot for tourists because of its proximity to Bourbon Street, I personally like St. Charles Avenue on the other side of the Garden District (neutral ground side!). There's good local food, lots of people, and the same amount of craziness, but a better atmosphere, in my opinion. Also, there are no barricades, so there's that little bit of danger when you inevitably get pressed up against a float by a stranger. But if you're there for more than one day, maybe try out a few different spots.

3. Attire

Elizabeth Gainey

Have fun with it! While most tourists are over the top with wigs and sequins, etc, it's the most fun time of the year, so you can have fun with what you wear! Although, while neon colors are popular, you can never go wrong with the classic purple, green, and gold look. However, always bring a raincoat and or jacket, because it gets cold at night. Some years Mardi Gras is in 80-degree weather, and others it's in the 40s, so check the forecast and plan accordingly! Also, don't wear your best shoes. Think walking shoes and frat shoes in one; you want something you can walk around in and something you don't mind getting muddy, so leave those nice heels at home. Also, the more beads the better! You better have about two whole bags-worth on at all times.

4. Food

Do not, and I repeat, do not go to a chain or a janky restaurant Downtown or in the French Quarter unless you at least looked it up on Yelp. If you wanna venture out of the tourist trap that is Canal, here's a few options of places I love. R & O's on the lakefront for seafood/Italian, Bear's or Parkway Bakery for a famous po-boy (although, everyone's favorite spots for one of these bad boys differ), or Willie Mae's (or even Popeye's, a parade route staple!) for some good fried chicken. And, bring some food and water for the parade route, because sometimes you just want to snack in the middle of a parade, and if you didn't bring anything you're gonna have to wait on one of the float's throwing you a Moon Pie or bag of Chee Wees.

5. King Cake

I don't think this is enough king cake...

Elizabeth Gainey

This part of Mardi Gras is so important it needed its own section. Please do not go to the nearest supermarket (Rouses or Walmart) to get a king cake. If you wanna feast like a local, head to Dong Phoung, Haydels, or Manny Randazzo's to get the best of the best. Not gonna lie, though, even Rouses has decent king cake, especially in a pinch.

Here's a comprehensive list of some of the local favorites: https://nola.eater.com/maps/best-king-cakes-new-orleans-nola

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15 Fourth Of July Fun Facts And Trivia

The United States of America: Land of the free, home of the brave.
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Fourth of July is a holiday I look forward to every year! Full of outside, summer fun, barbecued foods, and firework displays. Behind all of that, however, is history! In celebration of our nation's Independence Day, here are 15 fun facts and pieces of trivia:

1. John Hancock was the only member of the Continental Congress to formally sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.

2. The Fourth of July was not declared a federal holiday until 1938.

3. The first White House Fourth of July party was held in 1804.

4. Around 150 million hot dogs are consumed on Fourth of July (wonder if this statistic includes the hot dogs consumed during the annual Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest?)

5. Back in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, 2.5 million new people lived in the U.S. Now 240 years later, 311 million people live.

6. The now American-celebrated song, Yankee Doodle, was originally written by officers of the British army to make fun of backwoods Americans.

7. Three United States presidents died on the Fourth of July: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe.

8. July 4th is also celebrated in the Philippines, because in 1946, the country was recognized as an independent nation.

9. In one year, $600 million is spent on fireworks alone in the U.S.

10. Most of the signers of the Declaration did not formally sign until August 2, 1776.

11. Though it is no treasure map as predicted by Nicholas Cage in "Treasure Hunt 2", the message "Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776" is written upside down on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

12. More than 14,000 firework displays are put on across the country on Fourth of July!

13. Bristol, Rhode Island is home to the world's oldest Independence Day celebration. It dates back to 1785!

14. In 1781, the great state of Massachusetts became the first one to declare Independence Day a holiday

15. Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Display is the largest in the United States

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia.org

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45 Songs To Add To Your Memorial Day Playlist

Songs to truly remember what the holiday is for.

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I come from a family that would always go to the lake for Memorial Day and grill with friends and family. However, we always flew our flag and remembered why we celebrate Memorial Day. Both my granddads fought back when you didn't have a choice, back when young men died to protect this great country. To this day there are brave men and women dying to protect this great country and for you to be able to grill with your family. Here are 45 songs to add to your playlist.

1. ‘Letters from Home’ by John Michael Montgomery 

2. ‘Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)’ by Alan Jackson

3. ‘God Bless The USA’ by Lee Greenwood

4. ‘In Color’ by Jamey Johnson

5. ‘Something to Be Proud Of’ by Montgomery Gentry

6. ‘Old Army Hat’ by Billy Ray Cyrus

7. ‘One Hell Of An Amen’ by Brantley Gilbert

8. ‘Ragged Old Flag’ by Johnny Cash

9. ‘American Soldier’ by Toby Keith 

10. ‘God Bless America’ by Martina McBride 

11. ‘Some Gave All’ by Billy Ray Cyrus

12. ‘8th of November’ by Big & Rich

13. ‘Call A Marine’ by Toby Keith 

14. ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue’ by Toby Keith 

15. ‘Song of the Patriot’ by Johnny Cash

16. ‘I Just Cane Back (From A War)’ by Darryl Worley

17. ‘I Stand For The Flag’ by Wes Cook Band

18. ‘Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly’ by Aaron Tippin

19. ‘For You’ by Keith Urban

20. ‘Blood Brothers’ by Luke Bryan

21. ‘It’s America’ by Rodney Atkins

22. ‘Fallen Soldier’ by Nathan Fair

23. ‘Brothers’ by Dean Brody

24. ‘If I Don’t Make It Back’ by Tracy Lawrence

25. ‘Semper Fi’ by Trace Adkins

26. ‘Only in America’ by Brooks & Dunn

27. ‘Ships That Don’t Come In’ by Joe Diffie

28. ‘Have You Forgotten?’ By Darryl Worley

29. ‘Heroes Come from Small Towns’ by Rockie Lynne

30. ‘Arlington’ by Trace Adkins

31. ‘Riding With Private Malone’ by David Ball

32. ‘POW 369’ by Darryl Worley

33. ‘Red White & Blue’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd 

34. ‘We Fought Hard’ by Billy Ray Cyrus 

35. ‘A Soldier’s Memoir (PTSD Song)’ by Joe Bachman

36. ‘Boy in a Uniform’ by Rockie Lynne

37. ‘Nineteen’ by Billy Ray Cyrus

38. ‘This Ain’t No Rag, It’s A Flag’ by Charlie Daniels Band

39. ‘America Will Survive’ by Hank Williams, Jr.

40. ‘Til The Last Shot’s Fired’ by Trace Adkins

41. ‘If You’re Reading This’ by Tim McGraw 

42. ‘Survivor Guilt’ by Rise Against

43. ‘Hero Of War’ by Rise Against 

44. ‘Ballad of Balad’ by Toby Keith

45. ‘I Want You to Live’ by George Canyon


This year as you are gathering around the table about to chow down on a burger or hotdog remember the ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice to allow you the freedom to have a great time. Happy Memorial Day!

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