How to Survive a New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Our big sabbatical is coming up but that doesn’t mean that we are putting off fun experiences until June 🙂

This past weekend we traveled to New Orleans to visit Annette’s family and to experience the St. Patrick’s day parade in Metairie.  If you have been around New Orleans you know that they like to throw a parade for any occasion.  This parade is a full week prior to the actual St. Patrick’s day, but getting the party started early is what NOLA is all about 🙂

The parade starts at noon, and we arrived around 11 to stake out our spot.  It turns out that we were just in time to experience a huge downpour. Luckily we brought umbrellas.

After a bit of a weather delay the parade began.  In addition to the typical parade throws (beads, footballs, stuffed animals etc..) the St. Patrick’s day parade is famous for throwing copious amounts of produce including cabbage, carrots, potatoes, celery, lemons, limes, oranges, and more.  Also lots of ramen noodles and moon pies.  What more could you want?

Putting a cute kid on your shoulders is a surefire way to get some throws.

The parade ended up being three hours long.  A nap may be required.

Donning parade attire that was thrown from the floats.  Garters, boas?  Yes please!



One of many, many parade floats.

Just a portion of the haul.  Note the devastation in the background.  That street was clean when the parade started and it was undoubtedly a huge effort to clean up all of the mess that was left behind.


Having experienced this spectacle, here are our tips for surviving a New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day Parade:

  1. Bring chairs.  You’ll want some folding chairs so that you can relax until the parade shows up.
  2. Pack your cooler.  Along with the chairs, it is a good idea to have some snacks and cold beverages.  We brought some Guinness and there are several fantastic local breweries these days.  Don’t forget water of course.  Stay hydrated!
  3. Wear Sunscreen.  We set up for the parade a couple of hours before it arrived to our location, and it went for three hours!  It was sunny after the rain passed so we were happy to have some sunscreen.
  4. Bring a wagon.  Or maybe a wheelbarrow.  You’ll need some way to get your loot home, especially if you have kids.  We ended up with two wagon loads and the trip to the car would have been difficult without a way to carry it.
  5. Donate your hoard.  After the parade we came home with 60+ pounds of produce and six large bags full of throws.  We cooked some of the cabbage and carrots, and made lemonade and pudding with the lemons.  Still we had a lot more produce and ramen than we could eat ourselves so we donated most of it to a local food bank.  Similarly, we donated most of the throws (beads, stuffed animals, etc) to a local charity so they they can sell them for re-use in a future parade.

These are our tips for surviving a New Orleans St. Particks Day parade.  Please share yours!

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