New Orleans Second Line Parade: will we be safe?
November 4, 2022 7:36 PM   Subscribe

We will be in New Orleans and it's always been my dream to see / take part in a second line parade. Will we be safe at this parade and the route that is described? If yes, what time should we arrive there?

Us: 2 adults + a 5 year old. Well traveled. White, if it matters. Kid would likely be wearing noise blocking earmuffs.

What has me concerned is that Central City is always listed as the #1 area to avoid in NOLA. Then again the Marigny is listed on the "avoid" list, and we felt very safe there several years ago. Did things change post-COVID?

What neighborhoods should we avoid? We'll take any other tips you got for the next few days in NOLA!

This question about Seattle now has me a concerned that other places we once traveled to and considered safe might not be safe anymore.
posted by to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (5 answers total)
I looked at the route (source: lived in New Orleans for nine years, moved away a little over a year ago) and I mean, it’s in Central City which is a poor neighborhood. There’s definitely crime there, but on a Sunday afternoon in a second line crowd I would be more worried about pick pocketing or snatch and grab kind of things than anything else. Don’t leave your purse open and be aware of your surroundings and chances are you’ll be fine.

Gun violence is definitely a thing throughout New Orleans- it doesn’t really matter if you’re in a “good” neighborhood if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. There have been shootings in Bourbon Street and in the Garden District and other places considered safe or at least tourist-friendly. I have heard that carjackings (in all kinds of neighborhoods) are up, but how much of that is an actual increase vs. an increase in news stories and social media chatter? I honestly have no idea.

I’m not sure how big of a second line this is, but you may feel out of place more than anything since you’re white and haven’t been to one before. There will definitely be drinking and dancing and music and people having a good time, but also possibly fights and extremely drunk people and similar nonsense you may want to avoid with your kid even if it’s not really dangerous to you. I’d know how you plan to get there and how you plan to leave in case things get weird where you are but otherwise plan to have a good time and dance!
posted by MadamM at 8:15 PM on November 4, 2022

This isn't far from my house (I arrived here in 2008). My friend's memorial service was in that area and we had a jazz funeral procession for him around a couple of those streets. These questions are tricky, because like MadamM said, things can happen anywhere in Nola.

That said, I think it's important to separate out aggregated statistics of risk from the fact that you're just going to be there for a few hours. The last times that I've gone to second lines, it's a big enough group of people dancing through the streets that it's a great vibe and these sort of risks don't even feel like a concern. There's a difference between going to Hollygrove in a Bentley convertible* and dancing along with a big bunch of people led by an amazing brass band.

My main concern at second lines usually is triangulating distance to the band as you walk/dance along, because I want to feel enough of the energy of the event, but I know I'm not a core community member, even though I live just a couple of neighborhoods over, so I don't want to make it about me. I want to show solidarity for such a great weekly thing, but not be right up there next the band. That's want I end up thinking about, more than safety. That and strategizing where to park if you're driving, so that you don't end the route miles from your car.

Feel free to memail me if you have any more questions.

* which I saw once. It was a Metairie kid getting picked up from soccer practice. It felt very hunger games-y.

Also, anyone who is interested in second lines & jazz funerals should check out my friend Matt's beautiful book Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans that he did together with visual artist Willie Birch.
posted by umbú at 9:10 PM on November 4, 2022 [6 favorites]

Oh, and I've found that right at the end, just like at a bar, a few people's drinking catches up to them and the vibe can sometimes change, like MadamM mentioned. I just find that I leave a little bit before the end (I dunno--4:00ish maybe, or 3:30 pm?) but you can play that by ear.
posted by umbú at 9:17 PM on November 4, 2022

It is being sponsored by WWOZ so this is not going to be a small thing for sure. I would be comfortable going (I'm white and lived on the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain where no one wants to cross the Causeway except to go to Trader Joe's in Metairie).
posted by tafetta, darling! at 1:35 PM on November 5, 2022

I lived in New Orleans for 11 years (I just moved away this spring) and I think you should be fine. I mean, unfortunately incidents are possible but generally second lines are pretty safe and the vibes are good, especially if you're with a kid--people in New Orleans like kids and most cultural events are kid-friendly. Second lines tend to roll a little late, but if you show up around line-up time (like, if it says 10, around 10:30) it's usually a fun scene with everyone getting together and getting ready. I would caution you to be respectful with photography--generally long-distance shots or pictures of people actually in the parade are OK once it gets going, but don't get in people's faces or take closeups without asking.

New Orleans has indeed gotten more dangerous since COVID because everyone's broke and a lot of the city services closed and never came back. Also, the roads are really, really, REALLY bad now. Just like, gaping holes in the sidewalk, streets torn up for months or years, even in the fancy neighborhoods. Wear comfy, close-toe shoes.

City Park is a real gem and a great place to take a kid--there's an excellent playground next to a Café Du Monde outpost if you want beignets, and there's also a sculpture garden right there that's incredibly cool; the Children's Museum is also nearby. I feel like tourists never know about it but it's great, and in a pretty safe part of Mid-City.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 7:03 PM on November 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older Is there a Dr. House in the house?   |   Firefox doesn't want to talk to Google. Or the... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments