The greater New Orleans area is in the thick of the Carnival season. The first Carnival parades ran a couple of weekends ago--the ultra-satiric (and raunchy) Krewe du Vieux in the French Quarter, as well as others in the suburbs--with bigger parades last weekend. Now we're into the real frenzy of festivity. Mardi Gras is next Tuesday--February 20--so this weekend is a huge pre-Fat Tuesday celebration. The most famous parades will roll on Saturday (Endymion), Sunday (Bacchus), Monday (Orpheus) and Tuesday (Rex and Zulu). In addition to the superkrewes, there are numerous other parades every night and, on Saturday, Sunday and Fat Tuesday, during the day.
If your idea of Mardi Gras comes from the Girls Gone Wild shows or other coverage that emphasizes only the lewd, rethink your concept. Most of the Carnival celebrations are family-oriented. Yes, if you go into to the French Quarter, or Canal Street, the nearby "main street" of New Orleans, you'll see all those sights you've seen on TV that make your eyes pop and your hair stand on end.
But go into other parts of the city, further away from the French Quarter, and you'll see lots of families, with children of every age...and the suburban carnival celebrations are even more family-oriented. To quote from a San Francisco Chronicle article by Craig Guillot, a native New Orleanian, "Despite the legions of naughty videos, rumors and the fact that the New Orleans' tourism board does little to deny the image, Mardi Gras is far from the adults-only free-for-all that it's portrayed to be. The reality is that -- outside of the French Quarter -- families far outnumber flashers and drunks, and the only breasts one is likely to see are those of fried chickens."
This year it looks like we're going to have pleasant weather for Mardi Gras. It's been downright cold for this area the last couple of weeks--temps in the 30s at night (to New Orleanians that's COLD). It's warmed up today (in the 60s, which I love) and there's a touch of spring warmth in the air. The prediction for Fat Tuesday is a high of 70, with cloudy skies but no rain on the parades. Ought to be a great day.