Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Baton Rouge

As I was planning my trip to Louisiana, my friend warned me I would be there for St. Patrick’s Day, and that it can get quite wild. Apparently, in Baton Rouge they don’t do much for either New Year’s or Mardi Gras, but everyone goes all out for the green holiday. My friend and her sister were both on a float with their friends so early Saturday morning we left the house while it was still dark to meet with their group. I rode the float a few blocks so they could get in the parade line up, and then I said goodbye to everyone and headed out on my own to find a good spot to observe the festivities. The parade route starts at Hundred Oaks Ave, and winds through a neighborhood where families often line up. I walked through here, enjoying looking at the floats and festivities all set up, and everyone decked out in green before the parade started. I passed families playing games out on their lawns, a bagpipe band playing, and lots of drinking.

The second half of the parade turns onto Perkins Road which is lined with restaurants and bars. I stopped and grabbed a margarita from Zippy’s on recommendation (another green thing) and sequestered my way to the front of the crowd. Baton Rouge celebrates the holiday like Mardi Gras, with party bead necklaces thrown in every color, free cups and fake money. Everyone stands the majority of the parade with their arms outstretched, screaming for goods. By the end of the parade the streets are covered, electrical lines and trees are full of hanging beads, and my neck felt weighed down.

The party continues for those of age at Uncle Earl’s. Pre-purchase tickets are available at a discount, and I made my way down Perkins Road to find the packed bar. We ended up canceling the party plans and decided to meet back at the house. Just before this trip my phone battery started its decline, and I was lucky enough to end up with just enough battery to call for an uber. The party atmosphere is a bit much for me, I passed on taking jello shots at 6 am while getting the floats ready, but it’s also an atmosphere and culture different from most I experience.

Here’s my tips for surviving St. Patty’s Day in Baton Rouge:

  • Pack water and keep on the look out for water. I had a water bottle in my purse, and before the parade had started a group was passing out free bottles, which was fantastic.
  • Bring sunglasses and a raincoat. My entire Louisiana trip I carried my raincoat, which saw plenty of use. March in Louisiana means constantly changing weather with mini showers between the sunlight.
  • Wear sunscreen. Even with the changing showers and cloudy skies, it was sunny enough for the length of time I did have a mild sunburn on my face and arms.
  • Go early. The earlier you are, the better view you’ll get.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be on your feet for at least a few hours, and walking will be required to get to and from the route.
  • Also make sure your shoes are water resistant. This isn’t only important because of the rain, but because alcohol is constantly spilled during the parade, and it isn’t any fun to feel it soaking through your socks.
  • Pay attention to your drinking. While many people go all out for the holiday, it isn’t any fun if you’re stuck puking or passed out on the side of the road during the parade. This is especially important to pay attention to in experiences where dehydration can easily occur.

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