Our kids are fortunate to live in New Orleans. In case you ever doubt why you’re raising a family in New Orleans…
You get to wear costumes almost all year round
If your kiddos are anything like mine, your house is probably full of dress up clothes. Masks, capes and costumes aren’t just reserved for Halloween in New Orleans. Numerous parades, festivals and events lend themselves to expressing your creativity, with Mardi Gras being the most important of all. The best part? Your parents like to dress up with you! You will see kids ages 1-99 dressed up in costume just for fun. It’s not unusual to see a mini Drew Brees walk hand-in-hand into a Saints game with Dad dressed like the Pope and Mom wearing a black and gold feather boa. And you might not be too surprised to see your dad wearing a red dress in August!
Grilled cheese on a Monday night? No way, it’s red beans and rice in our households, dawlin’. NOLA kiddos understand that po-boys come “dressed” and, from an early age, they can warn their out-of-town friends “don’t eat the straight ones.” Our kids love sticking out tongues dyed bright green or red from delicious snoballs and enjoy scrumptious meals of crawfish monica and gumbo that most tourists don’t get to enjoy until their first trip into the city as adults. Added bonus: as a NOLA kid, you can get powdered sugar all over your face while eating breakfast but it’s okay because your parents are just as messy eating beignets piled high with copious amounts of powdered sugar.
A giant nutria, dog, pelican and voodoo man dance with you at sporting events
Talk about a diverse cast of characters for sporting events here in NOLA. The New Orleans Saints mascot, Gumbo, has a name to match the food we were just talking about, and it’s safe to say that the Zephyrs mascot, Boudreaux, and the New Orleans Voodoo mascots, Bones and Mojo, are naturally ‘Nawlins. There aren’t too many other cities where you see a giant orange-toothed nutria (and his wife!) running around the baseball diamond. We haven’t seen the Pelicans new mascot yet, but it’s pretty safe to bet that it will be as unique as our city.
You grow up in a city so steeped in culture and music that you don’t realize how lucky you are until you are much older
I remember as a young girl accompanying my dad to Jazz Fest and watching him tap his toes in the Jazz Tent. While at the time I didn’t even understand that I was seeing world-famous musicians, it’s pretty darn cool to be able to look back and realize that you were part of a music event that is known across the nation as one of the best. And let’s not forget about all of the amazingly talented local artists playing at concerts and festivals…or even on a street corner. The best part about experiencing this as a child? You don’t have to worry about getting ankle-deep in muddy puddles because you have a family member who will carry you on their shoulders or cruise you through the crowds in your stroller.
All the animals at the zoo ask for you
The Audubon Institute is pretty much perfection with the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium of the Americas and the Insectarium being in our backyards. Growing up as one of these lucky NOLA kids, I assumed that every city had equally awesome zoos and aquariums, but quickly found out that ours are superior to others and we are spoiled to live in a city with so many venues to experience nature, animals and exhibits. As a NOLA kid, you can roll down Monkey Hill (while being amazed at the house mountain to only later learn that our “tallest point” is an ant hill compared to other states), splash around at the Cool Zoo, check out white alligators, and even eat cookies with insects baked into them! And what other zoo has a song written about it?!