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What Not to Do in New Orleans

by Pableaux Johnson

Don't…
BUY OR WEAR BEADS ALL YEAR

We all know what you've seen on the MTV infomercials, and to a certain extent, we can't blame you for thinking that glittering plastic Mardi Gras beads contain a little bit of magic. For newbies, the gaudy jewelry represents the city's uninhibited tradition, with the added bonus of a little soft-core titillation if you find a suitably inebriated girl/guy about to go wild. But for anybody else, expensive plastic necklaces are the sign of a rube and the Bourbon Street Beast. Wear these most of the year and you're marked as a rookie on your way to a sweet-liquor hangover.

Instead…
EXPERIENCE CARNIVAL IN ALL ITS GLORY

Now that's not to say locals don't indulge in a little bit of glitter—we just know that there's a three-week season for the shiny stuff. Over the three weekends before Mardi Gras proper (on February 16 in 2010), beads fly from elaborate floats during the parades that celebrate New Orleans's Carnival. At this time, natives and travelers alike jump for their share of the swag and wear it proudly on the trek home. During that sweet springtime moment, the beads are a mark of honor—evidence of true participation—rather than the badge of the Lonely Conventioneer.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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