New Orleans has a population of around just 400,000, but it has all of the hustles and scam artists that you would expect from a major city the likes of New York or Los Angeles. Most of these street hustles are relatively harmless but you need to be aware of what is out there in order to make sure that you can dedicate your money to the right causes like Oysters Rockefeller from Antoine’s and Voodoo Daquiris from Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. Follow these simple tips from a New Orleans local and ensure that you don’t get hustled on the streets of the Big Easy during your Mardi Gras vacation.
I’ll Bet You Five Dollars I Can Tell You Where You Get Dem Shoes
A hustle nearly as old as New Orleans itself, the “betchoo five dollars where you got dem shoes” scam is a classic and many tourists have fallen for it over the years. See, you are approached by a guy who claims he can tell you “where you got dem shoes,” and he likely catches you off guard so you take him up on the bet because you doubt he knows where you shop for your footwear. He then says, “you got your shoes on your feet, now give me five dollars.” See, what he did there? Good, now don’t fall for it.
Beads Are Free, Don’t Lose Your Pride
Members of parading Mradi Gras Krewes spend thousands of dollars per year on beads so enjoy their generosity. There is no need to pay a street vendor or novelty gift shop $10 for Mardi Gras beads even if those beads have something that you find incredibly amusing dangling from them. Also, don’t flash for beads. Most locals and respectable tourists will gladly give you some beads if you come up empty-handed while screaming, “throw me something, mister,” on the parade route. Flashing makes you look cheap, and we live in the age of smart phones with cameras. The last thing you want to do is become a viral sensation when all you wanted was plastic beads from China. You would look like a real boob.
Drug Dealers are Stealers
Just because marijuana is legal in some states, does not mean it is legal in Louisiana. Yes, law enforcement gets pretty lax on minor things during Mardi Gras and you might want to relive your glory days of college but it is against the law. Do NOT press your luck. Enjoy the fact that you can walk down the street with a delicious adult beverage and stay on the right side of the law. There are people, particularly on Bourbon Street, that will try to sell you illicit substances. Just say NO. They could be undercover, a hustler, or worse. You don’t want to find yourself walking down an unlit street with a shady character. EVER. You could wind up with a very expensive bag of BC Powder or worse. Just don’t do drugs in New Orleans.
More from this contributor:
The 25 Essential Mardi Gras Songs: The Soundtrack to New Orleans Carnival
5 Essential Free Mardi Gras Apps for Your Android and iPhone Devices
Mardi Gras Defined: The 12 Terms You Should Learn Before Heading to New Orleans