Families flocking to Fat Tuesday Celebrations
NEW ORLEANS, FEB 7 — The City of New Orleans is preparing for a huge influx of something you might not expect to find in the Big Easy during Mardi Gras : families.
While the media continues to present a shocking, adults-only view of carnival culture, there is an entirely different side to the celebration happening that is, excuse the pun, waiting to be exposed. According to Lea Sinclair, Director of Communications at the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Company, “Mardi Gras is and always has been family-friendly. There are an equal amount of families lined along the parade routes of the Garden District and other parts of the city as there are people in the French Quarter. And the best part is that the parades, the activities, all of it, is free.”
Over the past few years, more and more families seeking an alternative to the usual bland, expensive, and overly corporate family vacation destinations are discovering carnival. Take Stefanie Fauquet of Sarasota, FL, for example. Her family members “rolled their eyes” when she informed them that she was taking her 5-year-old daughter and husband to Mardi Gras two years ago. Nevertheless, the Fauquets went to the Big Easy and haven’t looked back, even planning another trip for the following year. In her words, “Our child loved dressing up, dancing to marching bands and catching beads. Doing Mardi Gras with children is all about knowing where to go.”
In fact, the city is saturated with places to take curious little ones. One of the largest planned events is Family Gras, which includes a full schedule of concerts, local food stalls and a colorful parade, all which are designed to make children part of the experience. Performers this year range from Disney hits “The Doodlebops” to the actor Kevin Bacon as part of the duo “The Bacon Brothers”. There are also smaller, quirkier events, like the annual Krewe of Barkus parade, now in its twentieth year, that has an all-canine krewe, complete with a four-legged king and queen. Also not to be missed are the Louisiana Children’s Museum and the Aquarium of the Americas, along with the Audubon Insectarium, which is the largest bug museum in the United States.
Exposing children to the family side of Mardi Gras and of New Orleans makes for a wonderful cultural experience and a good time. Complete information about Mardi Gras 2012 is available atwww.mardigrasday.com.
Photo by Robert J. Williams