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Mardi Gras on St. Charles Avenue -- where the parades roll -- is generally a family-friendly event. Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, where the drunk people lurk, is not.
You can run afoul of the law for getting too sleazy in the Big Easy, but here five things that won't get you disbarred during Mardi Gras.
1. Open Container
Most cities would frown upon you walking down the street double-fisting a hurricane and a hand grenade. But not New Orleans. Like Las Vegas, New Orleans does not ban open containers. Instead, the Crescent City bans glass containers. So before you leave the bar where you've been drinking from a proper glass, you'll have to transfer your drink to a "go cup." Yep. That happens.
2. Other People's Property
In case you're too blitzed at Pat O'Brien's to read the fine print on the menu, the bar tacks a souvenir glass charge onto every drink purchase. You can keep that souvenir, or redeem the glass for cash at a window by the exit. Many patrons don't realize this, pay their bill, and abandon their empty glasses at the table. Less-intoxicated revelers have been known to descend upon the abandoned glasses and claim the cash for themselves to cover beignets at Cafe du Monde.
So is that legal? It's a question of intent.
Under Louisiana law, a thing is abandoned when its owner relinquishes possession with the intent to give up ownership, and an "occupant" acquires ownership the moment he takes possession. "To acquire possession, one must intend to possess as owner and must take corporeal possession of the thing."
So maybe you can collect abandoned glasses to pay off your law school loans.
3. Drive Through Daiquiris
These exist. You can't drive while drinking, and you can't put the straw through the lid of your 40-ounce daiquiri, but you can most certainly patronize a drive through daiquiri shop without getting arrested.
Contrary to popular belief, public nudity is illegal in New Orleans. (Many a bared breast does not a lawful act make.) You can be arrested for flashing, but you probably won't be disbarred for it because it's not a crime of moral turpitude, and it doesn't reflect on your propensity for truthfulness. Plus, the nearly-nudes far out-number the New Orleans police officers.
Officially, you shouldn't flash. (Have some self-respect, right?) From a practical standpoint, you can probably get away with it.
5. Throwing Stuff at Screaming Children
Haven't we all had a moment when we wanted to throw something at a screaming child? At a parade, that's acceptable behavior. Of course, "throws" are considered desirable at parades.
By "throws," we mean beads, doubloons, and other Mardi Gras-branded trinkets. You can't just hurl rocks into the crowd. Even heavier "throws" like the famous Zulu coconuts, cannot be thrown. Instead, float riders must hand the coconut to the lucky recipient.
Have fun in New Orleans, folks. Laissez les bon temps rouler!