Riding in a Mardi Gras Parade is on virtually every New Orleanians and tourist’s bucket list during the Carnival Season. Who doesn’t want to be one of the people on parade floats throwing armfuls of beads, stuffed animals, trinkets, and footballs to the crowds? The entire Mardi Gras Season is a great time, but if you want the best day, try to get yourself into the Krewe of Argus to experience Mardi Gras truly.

Fat Tuesday 2023 was like no other Mardi Gras celebration because my sister and I were invited to be first-time parade riders for the Krewe of Argus. The membership dues to join the Krewe of Argus are only $400. That fee gets you into an Open house party, Lundi Gras Cookout, Mardi Gras Day refreshments, ride, costume, and Post Parade Party! Next, you will need to spend money on throws, transportation, and of course, food and booze!

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How Much Does It Cost To Ride In A Float On Mardi Gras?

Joining a Krewe can cost anywhere from $400 to over $1,000 to have the honor of riding in a parade. A good option for out-of-town guests to become Krewe Members of the day is to ride with the Krewe of Argus for only $400 in the Metairie Parade. If you are not looking for a particular krewe to ride with, ride with the Krewe of Argus! They are a fun bunch.

How many beads do you need to ride a parade?

You should buy at least 2,500 pieces of throws, translating to 10 cases of regular beads. Of course, many riders like throwing more than just beads, so you can purchase signature throws, like larger beads, doubloons, footballs, and even stuffed animals.

Tips For First-Time Mardi Gras Float Riders

If you are looking for the top tips for riding in a Mardi Gras Parade, look no further. These are the best tips I gathered from the pros, but also from experience during my ride on Mardi Gras Day in Jefferson Parish. These tips suit anyone riding in a New Orleans Parade, Slidell Parade, and even a Mobile, Alabama parade! No matter how prepared you are, expect the unexpected and have fun!

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1. Go to the float loading party
Attending the Float Loading Party is an excellent way to get acquainted with your Krewe members (if you still need to learn them) and know-how giant the float is. You will be amazed to see that the inside of the float is filled with beads, stuffed animals, and hula hoops, you name it!
Be prepared to be squished until you start throwing items off the float on parade day. You can dress casually for a float-loading party. Wear your most comfortable shoes and traditional Mardi Gras colors if you are nervous!

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2. Show up on time
With any major event, you will want to show up on time! Many Krewes have a fun pre-party (which you should attend!) and will bus the Krewe to the staging area. The last thing you would want to do is show up to the float late and not be able to ride!
3. Go to the pre-party
Even though riding in the parade is the main event, going to the pre-party is so much fun! You can grab a bite to eat, purchase a few drinks, and meet your fellow riders! We had a pre-party breakfast for the Krewe of Argus, and I’m so glad we did!
4. Ride with your best friend
Riding yourself is fine but try convincing one of your friends to ride with you if you can! I rode with my sister, and I think we entertained the entire float with our dancing, stories, and throwing (more on that later).

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5. Know the parade schedule
Ensure you know the parade schedule to calculate how long you might wait to roll. Like with many other events and parades, some breakdowns or accidents can cause the parade to slow down or stall.
6. Figure out if you are Sidewalk side or Neutral Ground Side
If your friends or family members are coming to see you, tell them which side you are on.
7. Wear comfortable shoes
Face it – you will be on your feet most of the day. You better wear your most comfortable shoes. For me, that is closed-toed tennis shoes that are already broken in.
8. Wear proper parade attire.
Proper parade attire could mean so many different things depending on the weather. You want to ensure you are warm on cold nights, so wear pants, sweaters, and jackets, but if you ride on the hottest parade day of the year (like I did), you may need to wear shorts and a tank top. My Krewe’s dress code specifically said to wear comfortable shoes and black bottoms.

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9. Remember sunscreen
There may not be any shade, depending on where you are on the float. If that is the case, bringing a bottle of sunscreen and reapplying it throughout the ride is a good idea.
10. Bring a Cooler
Whatever you carry on, you must be able to carry off. But a cooler is necessary. I brought a soft-sided Trader Joe's cooler because I knew it was something I would be able to carry off at the end of a long day, but I saw many people lugging Yeti coolers.
11. Bring Food
Mardi Gras is not the time to be on a diet, so bring all your favorite snacks. I got a dozen homemade poboys, a few bags of potato chips, and Oreos. Other members of my float brought finger sandwiches, King Cake, fried chicken, and homemade cookies!

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12. Hydrate
Hydration is essential for two reasons. Many people drink while on the parade float, so you want to ensure you drink plenty of water. And two, sometimes Mardi Gras parades can be hot and in full sun. I froze a couple of water bottles the night before to use as my ice and drank all the water I had brought.
13. Bring Drinks
Of course, there is nothing like drinking on the parade route. Make sure you bring plenty of drinks to last the whole parade. When worse comes to worst, you may have a nice krewe mate or two who will give you a beer when yours runs out.
14. Go to the Bathroom
There is generally a bathroom on the float, but it is more like a porta-potty. Ensure you go to the bathroom before your float riding, getting on the float, and whenever needed. Bring hand sanitizer because, of course, there is no running water on these floats.
15. Bring an Extra Roll of Toilet Paper 
I don’t know about you, but I always bring extra toilet paper. One roll may get you through the whole parade, but that toilet paper roll may get lost, wet, or worse, ultimately used up.
16. Take a break and sit
I learned from the pros that you have to sit down and take a break now and then. Whenever our float stalled for a long time, we sat down to conserve our energy.

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17. Do not wear any rings
Do not wear rings while riding a float. Period. There have been so many horror stories where a wedding ring or diamond goes flying into the crowd because, for some reason, it slipped off while the rider was throwing beads.
18. Wear the Mask at all times
Did you know that taking off your mask is against the law? Whatever you do, ensure your mask is always on, or you may face a fine.

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19. Wear a Fanny pack
Leave the purse at home and wear a fanny pack. You don’t need many personal belongings when riding in the parade, so make sure you have a fanny pack to hold your phone, external charger, ID, and money.
20. Don’t throw at people not looking at you
Avoid head injuries in large crowds by not throwing at people who are not looking at you. There is something satisfying about having parade goers catching the mardi gras beads you toss towards them.

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21. No one says, “Throw me something, mister.”
Seeing how many people say “Hey” or “Hey, Hey, Hey” during Mardi Gras was shocking. Even though I’ve been to many New Orleans Mardi Gras parades, I expected people to say, ‘Throw me something, mister,’ even though I don’t necessarily yell that.
22. Don’t only throw to the little kids and young children
I loved seeing the families having a great time on the parade route, but I made it my mission to throw beads to the Paw-Paws in the back, thinking they would not catch anything. Many times, when they caught the beads, I could tell they were in the Mardi Gras spirit.
23. Soak in the Crowd
The best parade experience is sitting back and enjoying the scenery. When else will you be in front of large crowds, screaming for beads and plush while you ride past in costumes?

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24. Buy specialty throws
Everyone loves beads, but once the parade begins and rolls, all the crowd wants are specialty throws, stuffed animals, and even food items. I was taking a break and eating an Oreo, and so many people were yelling ‘Hey, throw me an Oreo!”
25. Throw all throws when the parade is ending
If you plan on riding only once or are an out-of-town guest, make sure you THROW EVERYTHING before the parade’s end. Towards the end of the parade, the people on my float didn’t have anything else to throw, and they noticed that we still had a ton of beads left – sis and I had so much fun just throwing bags and bags of beads to the parade goers because I wasn’t going to store those beads in my attic!

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26. Tip your driver
When getting off of the float, make sure to tip your driver around $10 per person. If you think you are exhausted, think about them. From ensuring no one is running in front of the tractor to navigating the police barricades, your driver deserves a tip for getting you safely to the end of the route!
27. Go to the post-parade party.
Even though you may be tired – go to the post-parade party! This way, you can decompress after the ride, chat with fellow float riders about your favorite memories, and grab food or drink before going home.
28. Take an Uber home.
The Krewes may provide transportation to get back to the parade’s starting point, but I found getting picked up (either by a family member or Uber) easier than waiting on a bus.

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First time riding in a Mardi Gras Parade

2023 was my first time riding in a Mardi Gras parade, and the whole experience was so much fun! I love all Mardi Gras celebrations, but riding in a parade is special. The best way to ensure you have a great experience is to grab a few friends and take over a float! While riding from the Pre-Party to Veterans Boulevard, I met a family who took over the whole float! As the parade rolls, you will start to get the hang of standing in a moving Float and throwing trinkets into the crowd.

During Mardi Gras Day, we did go live at the very beginning of the parade and a second time during the parade while we were rolling. Unfortunately, only one of the live streams was posted due to connection issues, but if you would like to experience riding in a parade with me, check out this live stream on Instagram!

There are plenty of things to do during Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. Springtime is my favorite time to explore Louisiana, so check out my whole list of things to do in Jefferson Parish this Spring.

Who knows, you may catch me riding in Argus again next year!