Just what is this Mardi Gras, anyway?

If you’re visiting Lafayette and Acadiana during the 2014 Mardi Gras, you probably have lots of questions. Here’s a quick primer to all things Carnival.

When is Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras is Tuesday, March 4.

Where do the parades roll in Lafayette? All parades will begin at the corner of Simcoe, Jefferson and Surrey streets and end at Cajun Field, except for the Children’s Parade which is abbreviated. You can view a parade route here.

When do the parades roll in Lafayette? Parades will be rolling through the streets of Lafayette Friday evening (Friday Night Parade, Feb. 28), Saturday (Children’s Parade, Youngsville Parade, Krewe of Bonaparte, March 1), Monday evening (Queen Evangeline’s Parade, March 3) and all day on Tuesday (March 4, Mardi Gras). There are more parades rolling throughout Acadiana; check the Lafayette Travel web site for the complete list or “like” our Facebook page for updates.

What’s up with the barricades? The Lafayette Police Department places barricades along the parade route for the public’s safety. Please remain behind the barricades when the parades are rolling. The barricades will go up on Thursday, Feb. 27, and remain until after the parades on Tuesday, March 4.

Will streets be closed? The Lafayette Police Department will close all streets on and around the parade route one hour before the event begins. The intersection of University Avenue and Johnston Street, along with the intersection of St. Mary Boulevard and Johnston Street, will remain open as crossover intersections until the parade is only several blocks from the location.

I’m worried about my children. Are they safe? Lafayette offers a family friendly Mardi Gras and you should not encounter any problems. But like any event involving crowds, you might want to place a note in the pocket of each child with the child’s name, address and contact telephone number.

If there is an emergency during a parade, or a lost child, what do we do? Police will be available along the parade routes but command posts are established at Fire Station No 1 at Vermilion and Lee streets, Fire Station No. 5 at Johnston and St. Julien streets, Lafayette Police Command Bus at Johnston Street and S. College and at Cajun Field. Medical assistance is available at ambulance units stationed on the parade route.

I have a handicapped person in my party. Where do we go? The 500 block of Jefferson Boulevard (between South Orange and South Sterling streets) and at Vermilion and Lee Street and St. Julien and Johnston Street, in front of the police command post, are viewing areas for the handicapped.

Are there Carnival costume contests? The annual King’s Court Costume Contest begins at 9 a.m. Mardi Gras Day (March 4) at Parc San Souci downtown. Pre-registration is not required but contestants are asked to be on-site in costume prior to 9 a.m. The theme for this year’s costume contest is Treasures of the Earth. Contestants will be judged in 5 classifications: Pre-School, 6-10 years old, 11-15 years old, Adults and Groups. For more information call 337-291-5566. The Mardi Gras Show at Clark Field is another event that offers costume contests, in addition to Mardi Gras Indians, food and live music.

What about festivals in addition to the parades? Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette offers a carnival midway, live music, food and, best of all, the parades end here! It all happens nightly Feb. 28-March 4 at Cajun Field.

What is the Cajun Mardi Gras? The “Courir de Mardi Gras” is a rural Mardi Gras celebration that dates back to the earliest days of settlement. With its roots in Medieval times, bands of masked and costumed horseback riders roam the countryside “begging” for ingredients for their communal gumbo.

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