You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
SEARCH THIS SITE

 

Having grown up in New Olreans, frequenting Mardi Gras parades was routine and always exciting and I doubt that in those crazy mass crowds of foot-stomping, line-dancing, bead-stealing paradaholics you will ever see a modicum of etiquette.  After all…Mardi Gras is about “madness” and seeing who can get the most beads around their neck without falling over.  However, with St. Patrick’s Day approaching and Memorial Day and Independence Day right on it’s heels, here are a few etiquette tips that can help make the experience an enjoyable and memorable one for all ages.

  • View Blocking:  Everyone wants to see the parade; unfortunately, everyone can’t have the front row.  Early settlers claim their spots, sometimes with chairs or just blankets on which to sit or stand.  The problem comes in when small children are behind all the big people (even those with children of their own).  Try to be considerate of the excitement a child has in seeing the bands, floats and firetrucks.  On occasion, scoot aside and offer the child a chance to grab a peek in front of you…after all, etiquette is about consideration and gracious moments.
  • Reserving Space:  As mentioned earlier, many will arrive as early as possible to claim their spot but keep in mind, the street and sidewalk are public property and available to all.  No one has a “right” to a spot if they leave to go get beer.  If you vacate your spot, it is not “reserved” so unless you have other family members with you to occupy it for you, don’t expect it to be available upon your return. 
  • Speaking of Beer:  Where I grew up, I have to admit, alcohol is a HUGE part of parade fun.  Of course, New Orleans is quite different from any other place in the world. Most states have laws prohibiting alcohol, depending on the city ordinances and liability issues.  Then again, many events will allow drinking out of plastic containers.  The point is….while social drinking and sharing fun times with friends at an event is commonplace, it is imperative to remember that there are children all around.  Know your limit.  Nothing is more crass than a loud, sloppy drunk screaming profanities at the marching band because he doesn’t like the piece they’re playing.  Such behavior can turn ugly….when Daddy’s little girl is asking what the “F” word means.
  • Ouch! That’s My Hand You’re Smashing!:  Again, in the Big Easy, you WILL get your hands and feet stomped on, smashed, broken and bruised.  “Dem doubloons  is like gold to da cajun folk and you will get hurt trying to claim your prize”!  Around the rest of the world, most parades don’t “throw things” out to the crowds, but some do.  For instance, in New Orleans at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, you can expect to catch cabbages and potatoes hurling through the air, green beads, doubloons (these are little metal coins with the name of the parade embossed on them and some are actually collectibles).  If you’re at a parade where candy, nik-naks, etc. are being thrown to the crowds, don’t stomp your foot on the item to claim it, lest you crush someone’s hand that was going for it at the same time.  It’s first to the product that gets it so back off and acquiesce. 
  • Blocking Businesses and Driveways:  Yes, it’s hard to find  a parking spot for a big fun parade but blocking someone’s business or a resident’s driveway is absolutely unacceptable.  Just because they live or work on the parade route does not give you free reign to park and run.  Sometimes, if it’s worth it to you, offering payment for such a privilege is an option.  One never knows if the owner is interested in the premium dollar just to have a car sitting for a few hours.  If you find yourself in such desperate need, and the owner is outside, politely approach and ask with a smile and good nature if their “space” is for rent.  The worst they can say is no.  Never disturb the resident or business owner by knocking on their door or interrupting their business for such a measure. 
  • Our American Flag:  While everyone may have been raised differently and told different rules regarding how we show respect for our American flag, any measure of respect is certainly better than none.  More often than not, when the Color Guard begins the parade, I rarely see anyone saluting the flag or removing their hat.  That being said, no one expects you to do so every time a band comes marching through.  It should be apparent that the first sighting of the American flag in the parade, respect should be shown in the form of  either your hand over your heart or saluting the flag as it passes….and ALWAYS remove your hat – men and women.  Many have paid a dear price in the name of the American flag and you can be sure, every veteran on that parade route is watching…and hurting….by the lack of respect shown for the sacrifices he/she made.
  • Backpacks:  If you’re traveling with a backpack, and it’s a good idea since you’ll not want to leave your spot if you can help it, try to keep it in front of you and lowered rather than slung on your back; chances are someone behind you will be getting bumped and swiped by your big wad of canvas every time you move.  Again….consideration is key. 
  • Litter:  It should go without saying that leaving your litter behind is just plain rude and disrespectful of the very public property to which you’ve been given the opportunity to enjoy such events.  Clean up your mess. …and teach your children the same.

Leave a Reply