I went to Mardi Gras once. A couple friends and I decided on the spur of the moment to go. We gathered some clothes and money and took off. It took 31 hours to drive non-stop to New Orleans. Jerry and I did all the driving because the car had a 454 cubic inch engine with a stick shift and we didn't trust Rick behind the wheel.
We had no reservations but found a hotel room for a couple days before the big crowds came into town. When that happened, we slept on the floor of a motel room of a couple girls we knew that also made the trek down to N'awlins. That was a fun time (six people sharing one room and bathroom - anyway, we survived.)
The cops down there don't like Northerners and a couple times we almost got thrown in the hoosegow: seemingly our only sin was being a Yankee. (We talked our way out of most of the situations.)
We visited many bars - some good, some bad, some risky for our well being, some gay, some redneck. Being young and invincible, we had a great time at them all. We drank lots of beer and ate tons of beans and rice while seeing some excellent music performed.
I still have my souvenir Hurricane glass and a couple strands of beads. I do regret the girls in the crowds didn't have the "Girls Gone Wild" mentality in relation to baring themselves that seems to be the norm these days...
Neville Brothers, Yellow Moon:
Dr John, Right Place, Wrong Time:
The Neville Brothers and The Meters, Fire on the Bayou: