February 16, 2012
Surviving Mardi Gras in NOLA
Kappa Alpha Order
As someone who’s been there, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the stuff of legends. Believe absolutely everything you’ve heard. Ten thousand people on one street in a city where bars don’t close and there are no open container laws. It’s absolute chaos – and it’s awesome.
But, there are some things you should know before you and your buddies head down to the Big Easy.
If you are going down for the weekend before Fat Tuesday, you are going to have a great time. You’ll be in town for two of the most famous parades; Muse and Endymion.
Muse is the only all-female krewe of Mardi Gras. The parades mascot is a high-heeled shoe and fellas, all I have to say is get your hands on as many of those as you can. The other parade is the parade of kings, the Endymion. This is New Orleans' world famous parade. It’s a krewe of all men and lasts two hours; it’s absolutely massive. I get the chills just thinking about them.
Where to Stay
First, if you don’t have a hotel room now, you are screwed. Every hotel in the city of New Orleans is full by now. You could get one in Slidel, but that’s a $30 cab ride to the suburbs.
So maybe you are thinking about finding your chapter down at Tulane. Wrong again. FACT: People in houses at Tulane hate Mardi Gras. Every year hundreds of frat boys from all over the country come over and think they are entitled to their couch. The frats have awesome spots for the parades and they fill a U-Haul with kegs, but aside from the beers and a ride downtown, that’s it. They don’t want you down there and you aren’t getting a place to crash out of them.
For the really determined, the Super Dome sells all day parking for $30 and you can sleep in your car….in the most dangerous city in America.
Speaking of the Super Dome, never ever speak a bad word about the Saints. If Drew Brees ran for Governor of Louisiana he’d win by a landslide. This guy is Tony LaRussa, Ozzie Smith and Stan Musial all rolled into one for those Cajuns.
There are a few rules in Mardi Gras; do these things and you can get away with literally anything else. First, don’t pee in public. Second, do not touch a police officer's horse.
Finally, if you see a fight break out don’t watch it. They will haul you off to jail just for hanging around. You don’t want to end up in a NOLA jail on Mardi Gras – the judges of Orleans Parish take off an entire week, you’ll be stuck in a New Orleans' for four days.
There are three bars that you cannot miss when you are down in the Big Easy. The first is The Boot. This is Tulane Greek Life central. It’s the Harpo’s of New Orleans. The Boot rocks and is the only place I know where a quadruple well really has four shots (dream on Bengals). Another great thing about The Boot – they serve great pizza all night.
Pat O’Briens is a staple of New Orleans. This bar is world famous; it’s the birth place of the Hurricane, the official drink of NOLA. Two of those puppies and you’re feeling great. Pat O’s is also a great place for lunch and dinner; the food is awesome.
Finally, you have to make it to my favorite bar in the entire world, Lafitte’s. They claim it’s the oldest bar in North America. The entire bar is candlelit and you sit around an old wooden piano. Lafitte’s isn’t like any other bar on Bourbon Street and when you are tired of fighting through the crowd, this is a great place to come and have a breather.
Bourbon Street is famous for it’s daiquiris. These things are a lot stronger than Trops, so be careful. The daiquiri bars are EVERYWHERE in the French Quarter, but there are only two worth having.
The Jester is the strongest drink in the Quarter; it’s not just a slogan or a myth, it’s the truth. BE CAREFUL drinking a Jester. The other daiquiri worth getting is a Voodoo. Most bars have them, but only Lafitte’s does it right.
There is only one place to avoid on Bourbon Street and that is the Krystal Burger at Bourbon and Canal. That place is not safe. Most crime and unsavory characters seem to flock to the place and it’s not a good idea to be there after midnight.
You can’t beat Lucy’s by the convention center. Some of the best burgers in the South are served up there. The food is awesome, cheap and the drinks are as strange as New Orleans itself (order a Blue Whale, trust me).
Most bars sell pizza or some kind of food and for the most part, it’s great. Café Du Monde is another world famous spot but it is packed 24/7 and on Mardi Gras you won’t even get in the place. If you do, order a beignet and a café au lait.
New Orleans is one of the greatest cities in the country; if not the planet. As my cousin says, “It’s the only foreign city in the United States.” You have to be adventurous in the city. It’s a wild time and every dollar spent in New Orleans is worth it. You’ve never seen anything until you’ve seen Endymion come down Canal Street.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of New Orleans and Mardi Gras. The place is a damn zoo and you have to see it to believe it. If you are headed down to Dixie this spring, I’m incredibly envious of you.
Peter is a senior studying strategic communications and business. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.