Expert Lends Mardi Gras Ladder Safety Tips From New Orleans

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By Meg Marino, MD

New Orleanians either have a “love” or “hate” relationship when it comes to Mardi Gras ladders, but they are a great way for your kids to experience parades. It’s a safe alternative for your child as it keeps them out of the crowd and from getting lost. However, it’s important to practice safety when using ladders on parade routes.


In 2014, the New Orleans City Council passed a parade rule that ladders cannot be closer than 6 feet to the curb. Additionally, they can’t block an intersection or a sidewalk, and you can’t chain or rope ladders together on the route. Also, you are not permitted to set up more than 24 hours before a parade or the city will remove your ladder. So, try to remember these ladder regulations before setting up.

Before going on the route

  • Check your parade ladder for any repairs it might need before you head out to the parade.
  • Plan how to get your ladder to the parade route.
  • Pick a location and arrive early to set up your spot (but not too early).

On the route

  • Make sure it’s level and stable when you set it up.
  • Children in the ladder should be well-secured with a sturdy bar across the front and straps to secure the child to the seat.
  • When a child is in the ladder, an adult should stand on the ladder to ensure stability as well as to protect them from heavy beads.
  • Use common sense about the size of the kids you allow on your ladder – a child who is too small can slip out and a child who is too big can cause a ladder to tip over.
  • Children should never stand while in a parade ladder.
  • Designate a sober adult who is going to be responsible for the kids at all times while they are on the ladder.
  • Any child who falls out of a ladder should seek medical attention immediately.

Be mindful

  • Even if you didn’t bring a child to the parade route, it’s important to be aware of children on the route. If you are jumping up and down for beads, make sure you don’t accidentally bump into any children or knock into their ladders.

Breaking down

  • When leaving the parade, be careful when breaking down your ladder and leaving the route. You don’t want to accidentally hit a parade-goer with your ladder.

Always remember to have fun and to enjoy this experience with your little one! The smile on their face when they catch that lucky throw is priceless.