Mardi Gras, Galveston
I think Galveston holds the second best Mardi Gras parade. In my opinion... of course New Orleans is number one. But it does get a little crazy on the strand. You now have to pay to get on the strand but it is worth it and that is where you want to be! If you dont want to pay then you can always go to the seawall around 25th street and they usually have an area there with stuff going on. (but no bead throwing) Dont bring your little ones to the strand because you will see lots of boobies and other things im sure they do not want to see. After all... it is mardi gras.
If you live in Texas but can't quite make it to Bourbon Street for Mardi Gras then drive down to Galveston. It may be second best but you'll never know it! A month before Fat Tuesday Galveston puts on different FAMILY-ORIENTED parades on the weekends. Each Saturday (and Sunday) there are at least three a day-around 12:00pm, 3:00pm, and then at sundown around 7:00.
You can get a million beads in an hour...at the later parades. The earlier parades are fun but they are kinda stingy with the beads. All of the parades have bands and floats. It's loud and exciting.
This past year a friend and I went down with her son and we had a blast. We met lots of people and got so many beads. I had to put them all in a backpack. (I go to collect beads for my students at school who love to earn them with good behavior hehe).
One really good thing is that I've always found free parking! That may not always happen but I'm three for three. The parade routes are either along the beach/seawall or they are in the Strand. Either way there is a LOT of room to stand around and catch beads. There is not as much room on the actual Tuesday of Mardi Gras but you can still catch plenty. I've been both on Fat Tuesday and on the weekends and they are equally enjoyable. I would highly suggest the weekend, though, because you can park easily on the seawall and catch beads on the other side of the road without any people in front of you.
Catching Beads Hint:
*DANCE! Go crazy! People want to throw to those having a good time and not just standing there waiting for beads. Show them you're willing to work for it! I got a lot that way.
*Scream thank you! Throwers weren't used to that and so their friends would throw me more.
*Wear a costume!
*Bring the kids! People LOVE throwing to the little ones!!
The Strand truly is the heart of Galveston. You can easily spend an entire afternoon shopping for beachwear and candies (there are some great candy and chocolate stores!), and there are lots of restaurants, bars and cafes to choose from if you wish to eat or simply have a drink. Also, there are some great buildings to look at if you're into architecture, and all year long different activities take place on the Strand (Dickens on the Strand, Mardi Gras Carnival, etc.).
Postoffice Street, also located in the historic Strand area, is another great street with bars, restaurants and cafe, perhaps a bit less touristy and all the more enjoyable for it!
Galveston's Mardi Gras celebrations are sort of a PG 13 version of what goes on in New Orleans. There's a great party atmosphere with beer and food stands all along the Strand, music and parades, and people go out on balconies to throw beads - the main difference is you don't have to do or show anything to have them! Visit the Mardi Gras Web site to find out more about the different activities scheduled for those 12 days of fun!