Parade Ladders

A popular way to provide children with a good view of parades, and sometimes tricked-out like custom hot rods, parade ladders are as much a part of childhood in New Orleans as king cake babies or snoballs (shaved ice with flavored syrup). But these iconic accoutrements of Mardi Gras need to be handled with care.

Iconic accoutrements of Mardi Gras need supervision

Kids seated atop Mardi Gras parade ladders and holding plush animals thrown to them by float riders.

Stepladders are a popular way to provide children with a good view of parades, while making it easier for them to draw the attention of float riders — and thus snag more throws.

Local hardware and lumber stores sell parade ladders outfitted with wheels, kiddie seats and safety bars. Some locals put exceptional effort into customizing and decorating their ladders, transforming utilitarian objects into the parade-viewing equivalent of tricked-out hot rods.

Consider how you will get your ladder(s) to the parade route. Best to have a location picked out in advance and arrive early to claim to a spot. If you’re driving, consider unloading the car close to the chosen spot, leaving a member of your party to watch your stuff while the driver parks the car. Avoid having to schlep a ladder or two, plus maybe chairs and a cooler and other supplies from an inconvenient parking spot. (The closer to parade time, the longer the schlep.)

Ladder-related accidents happen every Mardi Gras, so be sure to exercise caution. Ladders should be placed on level ground a safe distance from the curb — as many feed back as the ladder is high, according to the New Orleans Police Department. Chaining or roping ladders together or to public property (e.g., light standards, signposts and utility poles) is a no-no.

Also remember that when a parade is passing and people around you are competing to snag throws, there can be a lot of bumping and jostling (and, occasionally, tripping and falling). So don’t allow young children to stand on ladders. When children are in the seat, an adult should stand on the back of the ladder to anchor it, while also being on guard to deflect heavy strands or full bags of beads that may he heading for your child’s noggin.