Mardi Gras Safety: “Throw Me Something, Mister!”
By: Ashley Schafer Karcher
Beads, cups, stuffed animals and king cake. These can only mean one thing on the Gulf Coast: it’s Mardi Gras time!
Mardi Gras — which this year, happens February 13 — is full of family-friendly parades, allowing children to catch throws, see vibrant floats, and hear live marching bands. Carnival parades can be great fun for kids, but can also be dangerous if certain safety precautions aren’t followed.
The City of D’iberville Fire Department has some helpful tips to ensure your child has both a safe and happy time at a parade:
- Have a pre-designated meeting area, in case anyone in your group gets lost. Also have young children carry some sort of identification card that includes name, address and telephone number.
- Remind your children to stay out of the street and to not follow marching bands and floats.
- Parents should always be aware of what their children catch, especially toddlers, who can choke on small beads and trinkets.
- Remind your children to be careful when reaching down to pick up throws. It’s a better idea to put a foot on the trinket and then pick it up when it’s safer, to avoid getting fingers smashed or stepped on.
- Don’t let your kids approach horses at the parades or climb on or over the barricades. Tina Rutland, member of a local Mardi Gras krewe, has some advice for parents bringing their kids to a parade. “Please do not put small children on your shoulders during a parade,” Rutland said. “People are constantly jumping up and down and accidentally bumping into one another. I have seen small children fall off their parents’ shoulders several times.” “I also encourage parents to talk to their children about the dangers of throwing items back at riders on the float,” she added. “We, float riders included, all want to be safe during the parades.” Before you set out early to attend a parade with your children, here are a few recommendations on what to bring:
- Bag(s) for collecting beads, trinkets, cups, etc.
- Hand sanitizer
- Appropriate clothing for the weather, plus sunscreen for day parades
- Wagons, which are an easy way to transport young children from car to parade (A fun pre-parade activity for your child is to decorate the wagon with Mardi Gras colored streamers or balloons)
Finally, the most important thing to remember at a parade is: “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!)
Ashley Schafer Karcher lives in Ocean Springs with her husband and four children. She loves taking her children to local parades and eating the Moon Pies they catch (when they are not looking, of course).
In addition to the bigger/rowdier coast parades that may or may not be right for your child, here are just a few smaller local parades that are great for the entire family, as they are safe, stress-free for parents, and easily enjoyed by even the youngest children:
17th Annual Biloxi Children’s Mardi Gras Walking Parade
February 3, 10 a.m.
Downtown Biloxi, Rue Magnolia District
Bay St. Louis Krewe of Kids Mardi Gras Parade
February 3, 11 a.m.
Downtown Area, Dunbar Avenue
Krewe of Little Rascals Children’s Mardi Gras Parade
February 3, 12 p.m.
Downtown Plaza, Delmas Avenue & Pascagoula Street
Annual Krewe of Diamondhead Mardi Gras Parade
February 10, 12 p.m.
Travels the main streets towards the front of Diamondhead
(Gex to Aloha to Kalani, then right on Golf Club Drive)