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Mardi Gras, 2008-style!

expert_mardiGras_article.jpgJanuary 31
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
STOCK UP ON BEADS
Even girls gone wild won’t flash for dinky beads, but deluxe baubles cost $1–$10 a pop. Five days before Fat Tuesday, check out the Krewe of Muses parade Uptown. This all-female posse doles out perfect throws to dudes, who later flip them in the French Quarter. Yay, capitalism!

February 1
Friday, 6 p.m.
GET GUMBO’D
It’s nearly impossible to squeeze into a restaurant as the revelry amps up, so scarf po’ boys at Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville), just steps off Bourbon, before it’s too late.Another tactic: Grab a muffuletta sandwich to go from Central Grocery (923 Decatur).

February 2
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
LIGHT THE NIGHT
Endymion is a killer Mardi Gras parade, and the superkrewe is returning to its traditional midcity route for the first time since Katrina. Look for big floats and celebrity riders, but no word if Grand Marshall Kevin Costner will toss $9 to everyone who saw The Upside of Anger.

February 3
Sunday, 7:30 a.m.
SWEAT IT OUT
OK, hammers and hangovers don’t mix. But to truly grasp what Katrina did to the Big Easy, pop an aspirin and volunteer at a Habitat for Humanity project (hey, a little philanthropy never hurts, even during a week-long superbender). Sign up in advance at habitat-nola.org.

February 4
Monday, 1 p.m.
GET IN THE GROOVE
Why stand around and drink when you can strut around and drink? Marching societies fronted by brass bands tramp through the Quarter at all hours, inviting bystanders to join in. Pre-game with them at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon)…if you can hang.

February 5
Fat Tuesday
5 a.m.
INSERT EARPLUGS

Collapse into the nearest bed, backseat, or jail cell for some much-needed shuteye.

8 a.m.
UP AND AT ’EM!

Fat Tuesday’s raging kickoff parade, Zulu, is rolling, tossing coveted souvenirs to the crowd.

12 p.m.
DRESS FOR EXCESS

Adopt the tradition of donning a costume. Tip: Since the storm, darker themes are popular.

1 p.m.
IMBIBE LIKE A PRO

Maximize your booze dollar with a Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle (several walk-up locations).

2 p.m.
GET SQUEEZED

Wriggle into the jam-packed 300 block of Bourbon—ground zero for balconies and strip clubs.

3 p.m.
BE PEE SAVVY

Katrina recovery efforts left the FQ with more portable johns, and the courthouse has short lines.

4 p.m.
CROSS THE BORDER

Take a break from the Quarter crush at Blue Nile, a bar in the less-touristy Marigny ’hood.

11:59 p.m.
EXIT STRATEGY

Cops roll in at 12, so find a bar that rages on behind locked doors. Then go home. Seriously.