Down here in the South we celebrate Mardi Gras or Carnival. In fact, the season just got underway. Tyler has been begging me to take him to a parade but I have been reluctant to do so. I definitely didn’t want to take him when we were in New Orleans. In the 20 odd years I’ve lived there, I can count on one hand the times that I’ve actually been to the parades. But since we are here in Mobile, where Mardi Gras originated, I’ve decided that maybe I should go ahead and take him. It’s definitely more family-oriented in Mobile whereas in New Orleans the main focus is on partying and drinking. Don’t get me wrong, there are some parades that are family-friendly. But there’s a lot of “stuff” going on during some of these parades, especially the night parades and some that take place on Fat Tuesday, well, they make even me blush!
Parades are a fun family excursion, but you definitely need to take precautions. No matter where you live, you probably have parades throughout the year celebrating a host of events. There’s Christmas parades, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter parades, just to name a few. When taking your kids to the parades, here are a few things to keep in mind:
(1) Find out where lost children are taken. You probably don’t want to think about your child getting away from you but it happens. The police department will usually have a van, trailer or other plainly marked location where you can retrieve your lost child. If you don’t see one, look for an officer and inquire what you should do if you lose your child. For older kids, agree on a pre-designated meeting spot in case you get separated.
(2) If you are attending parades at night, make sure you park in a safe, well-lit area, near the parade route.
(3) Make sure you keep your kids behind the barricades on the parade routes; they are there for a purpose, the safety of parade-goers.
(4) Many parades do not allow animals, so check first before bringing Fido along.
(5) For cold weather parades, dress in layers; the temperature can change dramatically.
The main thing to remember when you attend a parade is to have fun and enjoy all the colorful floats, marching bands and performers.