Pooches, boats and floats are on parade in St. Tammany Parish’s fun and family-friendly Mardi Gras. If you’re looking for the gee-rated version of Carnival, find it here on Louisiana’s Northshore, just 45 minutes north of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Northshore Mardi Gras celebrations are quirky, creative and high-energy. Marching bands and ornate floats take it to the streets. Fancifully decorated boats ride the waves and costumed pups walk their people.
Prepare for beads! Lots and lots of beads. Called ‘throws,’ the beads, as well as trinkets, coins and other miscellaneous playful items, come raining down at every parade, tossed by float-riding members of Mardi Gras organizations known as ‘krewes.’ “Throw me something, mister,” is the battle cry of Mardi Gras.
There are almost two dozen parades on the Northshore during Mardi Gras season. Some of the highlights:
The Krewe of Bilge in Slidell and the Krewe of Tchefuncte in Madisonville are floating parades. Krewe members decorate water craft in Mardi Gras colors and hurl throws to throngs of parade-goers along the banks.
Dog lovers will want to check out the Mystic Krewe of Mardi Paws on the Mandeville Lakefront walking path. Family members traditionally “escort” their pets along the parade route, marching in costume, then congregating under the 100-year-old mossy oaks. Over in Slidell, on the east side of St. Tammany Parish, the whimsical Krewe de Paws celebrates furry friends, too, taking to the streets of Slidell’s historic Olde Towne district.
The Krewe of Push Mow in Abita Springs features homemade floats, many based on lawn equipment, decorated to humorous themes (“What’s that Smell?” was a past favorite). The floats take a funky and rousing cruise through the heart of Abita. Also extra fun: Covington’s St. John Fools of Misrule procession and Slidell’s Krewe of Mona Lisa & Moonpie.
Wait, there’s more. A number of other krewes roll with traditional, fanciful large-scale Mardi Gras floats and marching bands. Bring a bag for all the loot you’re going to catch when you line up for the Northshore krewes of Eve, Olympia, Selene, Perseus and Dionysus – or any of the other wonderful Carnival celebrations on the Northshore.