'Let the good times roll,' still be safe at Mardi Gras
A float eases down New Orleans' historic streets during the 2007 Mardi Gras Rex Parade. Whether planning to attend on- or off-post parties, plan ahead to keep safe during the events.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Mardi Gras dates to 1703 when Mobile, a French colony, observed North America's first known celebration of the holiday, according to <a href="http://www.mobile.org/vis_mardigras.php" target="_blank">www.mobile.org</a>.
Mobile Cowbellian de Rakin Society members took to New Orleans in 1857, where a major celebration is held annually now. Many other cities around the country offer celebratory events on Feb.16, also known as Fat Tuesday.
Whether attending Mardi Gras parties on or off post, plan ahead to be safe to keep the good times rolling, or, as they say, "Laissez les bon temps rouler."

* Do not wear expensive jewelry or carry purses when going out. These are easy targets for pickpockets.
* Don't put wallets in back pants pockets. Divide cash, ID cards and credit cards between various pockets to prevent theft.
* Do not leave valuables in vehicles or hotel rooms.
* Create a plan with friends and Family members, designating meeting places and times.
* Have group contact information on hand in case of separation.
* Keep children close by or leave them at home with responsible adults. Inform children about plans, destinations, landmarks and other pertinent information. Have them carry parental contact information in case they get lost. Remember what they are wearing in case they need to be found in a crowd.
* When attending parties in large cities, follow the crowds. Don't use side streets or venture off the main path. There is safety in numbers.
* Designate drivers if planning to consume alcohol. Those who choose to consume alcohol should drink in moderation.
* Have cash to catch a cab in case of separation from friends or Family members.
* Determine in advance where restrooms will be available. Realize some may charge to use the facilities so bring extra cash.
* Wear comfortable walking shoes if attending outdoor gatherings and parades.
* Dress comfortably. Prepare for changing weather by wearing layers and bringing rain gear.
* Wear sunscreen and hats to prevent sunburn.
* Pack meals. Bring hand sanitizer to use before eating.
* Bring only small, light and inexpensive camera equipment to lighten loads and prevent costly losses.
* Choose comfortable and safe costumes and masks.
* Bring plastic bags with handles to collect trinkets.
* Stay a safe distance from floats to avoid injuries.

Information in this article is courtesy of www.mobile.org/vis_mardigras_safety.php and www.mobile.org/vis_mardigras_history.php.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16