Parade survival guide: Staying sane in the rain!

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NEW ORLEANS -- Like it or not, it's probably going to rain on your parade this weekend. But this is New Orleans, where we don't let a little bad weather ruin our fun.

Tara Huddleston is a mother of three who writes for New Orleans Moms Blog. She met up with Twist Reporter Stephanie Oswald at ZukaBaby in Metairie, to offer some advice for families who might be on the fence when it comes to heading out in the rain.

"It's a good life lesson to prepare for whatever life might throw at you," she says. "Go with the flow. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best and make the best of whatever weather we get."

She says she always brings a bag of tricks with her to the parade route. It has all kinds of clothing, healthy snacks and some "surprise" toys to keep the little ones occupied during down time. That could be critical this year, with the forecast calling for rain.

Snacks in small bags, good-for-your-teeth Zollipops and individual squeeze yogurts are a good idea.

Something else you want to remember if you're bringing a wee one: protection for little ears. Em's for Baby makes earmuffs for tiny parade-goers and bigger kids too.

ZukaBaby sells the protective ear-wear and lots of other fun Mardi Gras-themed items as well, including teething toys that are purple, green and gold, that come in necklace or bracelet form. (Watch the video above and you'll see one!)

Lots of parents opt to put bike or football helmets on their little ones, especially if they are sitting in ladders. Huddleston says ladders are great because they give your child a fantastic view, and they keep them in one spot, which gives mom and dad peace of mind.

More Mardi Gras must-haves: A sturdy wagon to lug your loot, plastic bags, proper clothing (remember those rain boots!), and a super stroller for your infant. Forget the cheap fold-up stroller during parade time;  this is when having a dependable stroller can make a big difference in your family's experience. Huddleston says her lifesaver is the Britax B-Free travel system, with a large canopy to protect baby from sun, rain or beads, and a front wheel that locks in place.

"It's really great for our potholes and broken sidewalks," she laughs.

For older kids, remember to determine a meeting place "in case of emergency" and to be sure everyone knows where the car is parked.

Also, no matter what age your kids are, take a photo before you head out, so that you can quickly recall what each child is wearing if necessary.

The most important item to pack won't take up any space:  Bring a positive attitude.

"It's a lot of work. It's hard to bring your kids to Mardi Gras, but it's so worth it," says Huddleston, whose parents took her and her two sisters to the parades when they were tiny.

"It's such a special part of living in New Orleans and I have such great memories of Mardi Gras as a kid. It's something that our kids get to experience that a lot of kids don't, so I'm happy to do the work that it takes to give my kids those memories.


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