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Don't Forget To Check Out Our Mardi Gras Survival Guide

Mardi Gras the premiere party of the South! Not only a time to party but also to enjoy life, having a great time with friends, family and the Krewes of Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras is irresistibly fun, sarcastic, and sassy! Perhaps it's the anticipation of the merriment, the excitement of catching throws, the extravaganza of the parades, getting dressed up in costume, or going to a Ball, but a frame of mind takes over and says "forget your problems and have fun!"

General Mardi Gras Information

Galveston is a friendly, fun, and happy city but don't let that fool ya! We want you to have a great fun filled time, so do a little planning and take a few precautions! Please look over the following Mardi Gras Guide with our Rights and Wrongs, and you'll have a great time!

When is Mardi Gras?

Once you have decided to go to Mardi Gras you,ll need to know when it will be! Mardi Gras can fall on any Tuesday between February 3 and March 9. By tradition the celebration starts on January 6, the Twelfth Night of Christmas, known as the Feast of Epiphany and continues until Midnight on Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday known as Fat Tuesday. How will you know which Tuesday it will be? Mardi Gras is always 40 days plus 6 Sundays before Easter. Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25 with the exact date is to coincide with the first Sunday after the full moon following a Spring Equinox! There you have it! How to determine when Mardi Gras is going to be held. If you're still confused, do what we do, get out a calendar with the holidays on it and it's the day before Ash Wednesday! To help you out that date is March 4 in 2003 for the next Mardi Gras.

Planning - Getting Ready To Go!

Mardi Gras Right!

First, do plan to stay in town or come for the day. If you plan to stay (the preferred way to see everything) then MAKE RESERVATIONS! Plan ahead! Make your reservations now! Most hotels will steadily book blocks of rooms beginning in August and are often solidly booked by fall.

So now it's late, and you decide you want to go and stay in town, be prepared to spend a lot of time on the phone! Keep calling. Hotels have cancellations; there are waiting if you are persistent, you just may find a place somewhere! Keep in mind that hotels on the parade routes are not always higher-priced! Some hotels claim "blocks away" or "minutes from the parade." Understand that:

"Blocks Away" = "Long Walks"
"Minutes From" = "Convenient Driving Distance" or "Get a Taxi!"

Mardi Gras Wrong!

Be careful of any long walks late at night. You may run into weird characters on the way back! Stay with the crowd. Avoid alleyways. And remember: taxicabs are more difficult to find at this time of year, use the trolley.

Mardi Gras Wrong!

Reservations: Waiting until January to make reservations is not a great idea! You might get lucky, but there is no guarantee. Never come here looking for a room at Mardi Gras time! Many people do camp out at the State Park but again, make a reservation!

Transportation and Parking

Mardi Gras Right!

Transportation and Parking: If you are driving in for the day from Houston or an outlying hotel, remember that the Strand during Mardi Gras weekend is closed to vehicular traffic, and so is the Seawall and 25th "Off and On." Only Strand residents and hotel guests with special parking passes can get by the police barricades. Off-site commercial parking lots are expensive and fill up fast, so get there early!

It is a good idea to get a map of the city, and study the areas you'll be visiting. Galveston is a "checker board city" Numbered streets run north and south and letter streets run east and west. Also safe neighborhoods can be within blocks of unsafe areas. Your hotel concierge or front desk can help you with route times, traffic and parking. Check out our parade section, which details the routes of the parades.

Mardi Gras Wrong!

Transportation and Parking: If you stay in an outlying hotel, don't depend on them to supply you with transportation to the Strand, Seawall or anywhere on the parade routes. Traffic can be unbelievable at times, and standard routes are often barricaded to redirect the flow. Even public transportation can be difficult - bus and streetcar routes and schedules often change during Mardi Gras, so plan ahead, and make sure you know when and how to get there and back! Also establish a meeting point and time to meet with everyone in your party to avoid losing someone, it happens a lot.

Parking in or across driveways, on medians, vacant lots, someone's front yard, in front of fire hydrants, within 15 feet of corners, too far from the curb, double parking, or on the Parade route within 3 hours of a parade is not a good idea! Your car will get towed away, not to mentions the fines you'll get. Be smart on where you park.

The Parade

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Get where you're going early! Parade routes can look empty one moment, but the crowd size can swell fast within an hour or two before the parade, which makes the front row spot four or five people deep. For the biggest parades that roll in the evening, plan to get there about 4 hours ahead of time to find a parking spot, and get yourself a great spot! Bring a chair!

Mardi Gras Wrong!

Don't reach down to pick up beads, doubloons, etc. unless you are very careful! Put your foot on it, and when it's safe (between floats), you can bend down to pick it up. Everyone on the floats and Mardi Gras vets know how dangerous it can be. Many people just have to have those throws and they're not thinking about the next float! Most Krewe member never throw when the float is not moving, this is for your safety. It prevents people from rushing up to the float and then the float moving hitting you! So stay away from stopped floats in the parade.

Mardi Gras Wrong!

Do NOT run into the street between floats for a trinket! Floats cannot stop on a dime; and accidents have occurred. Want to get chased by a cop? Just jump over a barricade, get in a band's way or start marching in it, aggravate anyone in the marching units or hang on a float, and you are sure to be arrested!

Mardi Gras Wrong!

Don't be late, the parade wont wait for you just because you decided to come! If you get there late, do not move unoccupied chairs or ladders along the parade route to claim a good isn't open space, just because you can't see anybody there! Families and friends tend to congregate at the same place year after year, save their spots, and get to know their Parade Route neighbors pretty well. Somebody is watching that site! If you move their chair or ladder, it won't go unnoticed. But don't worry, once the parade starts, there's always a place for everyone, trust me.

Be careful near the floats! You may decide to put your child or your girlfriend, wife, whoever on your shoulders so they can catch special throws from the Krewes. Be careful, the crowds can swell forward suddenly and unexpectedly, making it easy to get knocked over. Make sure no one gets too close to the floats when reaching for throws!

Mardi Gras Wrong!

Don't be a total jerk or obnoxious. The police use an efficient system for arresting and carting off those who violate this simple rule; it keeps the troublemakers out the way. Don't get overtly drunk, or be obnoxious, or behave irrationally in public; it is not amusing to anyone, especially the police, and is a very easy way to get arrested. If anyone told you that's what Mardi Gras is about, they're wrong and they missed out!

Making Mardi Gras More Fun Than A Barrel Of Monkeys

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Wear A Costume! You can dress up as anything imaginable! There are costume contests in every part of the city. Plus the crowd watching is as much fun as the parades!

Try not to bring an expensive fancy camera to the crowed areas. Just get an inexpensive camera, one you won't fuss over, or need to protect. Many people just use a simple throw away, they come in a lot of varieties now and not a problem if dropped, lost or stolen.

Remember that most of your time is outdoors, so plan accordingly: comfortable shoes, many times jackets, and layered clothing. Most of the time at this time of the year the mornings are cold and afternoons are hot. It's not unusual to be 40 degrees when you get your place to watch the parade and 80 degrees when the parade starts or finishes.

After the day parade Shop until the Night one! It is a festive time in Galveston! Ride one of the trolleys to go between the Strand and Seawall. Wander around. Before you know it, it's time for a night parade! You can PARTY till you drop (just do the dropping safely)!

Catch Mardi Gras throws! Enjoy jumping up to catch beads, doubloons, cups, and stuffed animals--whatever! Yell at the float riders "Throw me something!" Bring a large, sturdy bag to hold all the treasure you'll be catching. Some jerk will every now and then jump in front of you, or try to take what the Krewe rider has thrown to you just let it go. Don't get into a fight it's not worth it, there's always more on the way!

Mardi Gras Basics

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Bring the family! You can bring blankets, ice chest and picnic baskets. Get there early to enjoy the day! As parade time nears, the crowd will gather everywhere, and you'll have to put things up

Plan your meals ahead! Restaurants on the parade route are usually full on the day and night of the parades as well as on Mardi Gras day, so make your plans early with those that accept reservations. If they don't, plan to wait a while to get a table, or eat street vendor food, or pack your own snacks and sandwiches.

Practice ladder safety! Ladders are popular and a great way for a good view if you are short or bring kids. If you bring a ladder, it has to be behind a barricade or as far away from the street as the ladder's height so when the ladder is knocked over it does not fall into the street.

Have a meeting place! Mardi Gras is huge, and there are thousands of people are on the streets, it is very easy to get separated from your friends and family. Cell phones has made linking back up easier but don't rely on it. Have a meeting place; Make sure everyone knows where it is and when to meet there in case anyone gets lost. For children or members of your party that act like children it's a good idea to give them a note card with your name, address, phone numbers (cell, hotel, pager) and list any pre-arranged meeting place or time on them just in case. Instruct your children to go a police officer or fireman, if they become lost, they know what to do, and will return your child quickly because they don't want them.

Mardi Gras Wrong!

You may see some people who get carried away, such as flashers for beads; this is not always a good idea! The police will politely remind them that they are in a family area, and if they don't stop, they can be arrested. More of this goes on in the Strand during the night parades (due to been there all day drinking) than during the day parades. However all in all there is very little flashing going on, it's more media focus than reality at the parades. So don't worry about your kids, boyfriend or husband, come and enjoy the parade. Also more men pull up their shirts than women.

Remember Mardi Gras Can Get CRAZY!

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Respect the Police, EMS and Fire Dept.! These guys are overworked during Mardi Gras. During Mardi Gras they are very tolerant of usually normal unacceptable and intolerable behavior. Long shifts, Parade Duty, drunks, traffic accidents, lost kids, fights, rowdy crowds, nuisance complaints and myriad of other incidents keep them busy 24 hours a days. If an officer tells you to do something, just do it without any back talk!

Normally it's okay to consume beer openly on the streets during Mardi Gras as long as it's in a can or cup, no glass or bottles, we recommend you use a koozi however, don't make an ass of yourself or the police might tell you to stop. The drinking age is still 21 and it is enforced.

Bead Catching Tips:

Make eye contact!!! The floats often move by fast and the riders are masked. Try to catch the attention of the Krewe members and you will often be rewarded with their special throws. Anything that draws attention; weird hat, blinking beads, funny sign, etc. is worth the effort. Good signs include: "You can't throw this far", "I came all the way from...." (lie), "My mama knows your mama", "My first Mardi Gras" (or whoever)

Be willing to trade. If a float stops close by that rider might be willing to trade his best stuff for a cold beverage.

Be ready with your foot when that shower of doubloons hit the ground. Cover the doubloon gently with your foot and wait till the float passes to retrieve it. This will save you the pain of having your fingers stomped.

Stand close by any cute girl, (or man for women Krewe members) kids, nuns, soldiers or babes. And of course don't forget getting next to people in wheelchairs. These are the bead magnets and you can get the overthrow. A young woman in a tight shirt cannot carry home all the loot that will rain on her

For night parades stand in a lighted area.
Keep the beads around your neck to a minimum. Stash some in your bead bag and look sad and pathetic at your complete lack of beads.
Do Not Go Near or Between Floats!

   Mystic Krewe of Aquarius
1311 Winnie
Galveston, Texas 77550

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