The official kick-off of the 2011 Mardi Gras season starts on February 19th at 6:30 p.m. with the Krewe du Vieux in the French Quarter. Thus begins the biggest celebration in New Orleans where locals can watch as the population swells to over double its normal size. Expect the crowds, lines, and road closures to last until Fat Tuesday on March 8th. So, how do you survive the Mardi Gras frenzy when you live in the famous French Quarter? It is simple with these quick and easy tips.

1. Make note of street closures. Remember there is at least one parade almost every day starting February 19th. Keep a list of parade dates, times, and general routes in your car. Streets are closed often closed hours before and after the parades. Keeping this information easily accessible will save you from missing important events or meetings.

2. Plan dinners out ahead of time. While most restaurants do not take reservations during the Mardi Gras season, there are a few who might bend the rules for local, regular customers. Next time you are in your favorite restaurant ask about their policies. Get the maitre d’s name and tell him that you will be calling. If you get stuck and need a quick, inexpensive restaurant for dinner try Zydecue Bayou Barbecue, the Quartermaster Deli, Angeli on Decatur, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, or the Country Flame.

3. Remember to move your car. If you are lucky enough to have a designated parking spot or hidden drive, relish in the security of knowing where you car will be when you need it. If you are going to be on the hunt for a parking spot on the street during Mardi Gras try to avoid parking along a parade route at all costs. Remember that the two hours before and two hours after each parade your car will be towed or ticketed if parked along a parade route.

Three simple tips that will save you from the commuting headaches, keep you well-fed, and save you parking ticket or impounding lot fees. Our most important and final tip:

4. Laissez les bons temps rouler. Sit back, sip your hurricane from the veranda of your home, and enjoy the celebration. Catch a few beads, throw a few beads. It’s Mardi Gras afterall!

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