Mardi Gras Sensory Strategies

Living in Southern Louisiana, enjoying a Mardi Gras parade is something that we’re born to do.  As small children, we sit on top of the ladder yelling “Throw me something mister!” hoping to catch pretty beads or a stuffed animal.  We learn how to wait for hours on the parade route and enjoy dancing as the marching bands pass.  But what if touching the material of a stuffed animal or hearing the loud drums and horns are enough to start a tantrum? Here are some sensory suggestions for our little friends who might be a little hesitant to let the good times roll.


  • Stand further back from the parade route to be away from the loud noises of the bands and those yelling for trinkets.

  • Have other family members or friends get to the route early to stake out your spot. Wait until right before the parade rolls to show up with your child.

  • Make a visual schedule with the sequence of events for the day and talk to your child about what sounds, sights, and other sensory input they may experience.

  • Limit the number of parades you plan to attend. Spending an entire day on the parade route may be too overstimulating.

  • Bring noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs for your child to wear during the parade.

  • Don’t force a child to sit on top of the ladder. Let them stand on something closer to the ground or occasionally be held to view some of the floats.

  • Bring a bag to put beads and other catches in so they don’t have to be worn or held.

  • Come prepared with other activities to occupy your child when there are lulls in the parade.

  • Bring sunglasses and a hat for daytime parades.

  • Know where a nearby restroom or other quiet place is in case your child needs some down time from the excitement.


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