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How  to make a Mardi Gras parade ladder seat 


Mardi Gras Ladders are very popular during parades at Mardi Gras. It's a great way to see the parade!  It's also very common to see custom made seats atop ladders for children. It helps keep your children from getting underfoot or lost, and gives them a great view when it's crowded. It also gives the grownups a good view at the same time since they can stand on the steps of the ladder while the children are seated and help them catch throws.

I was unable to find any instructions for making a ladder seat anywhere on the internet, so I have posted mine in case it helps future ladder seat makers.  People make these many different ways, and sometimes decorate them and include accessories. Use quality items and keep safety in mind. Here's what we did:

Items we used:

  • one 6' x 1' board 3/4" or 1" thick (3/4" is better because it's not as heavy to carry)
  • one 2-1/2'  wooden dowel about 1-1/2 inches in diameter
  • several 2-1/2" deck screws
  • two large eye hooks
  • one snap clip
  • two to four 2-1/2' bolts with wing nuts and washers (to attach the seat to the ladder)
  • ladder  (we used a 6 foot wooden ladder)

The board I used was rounded on one edge which made it nice so that it was comfortable for the kids when their legs hung over the edge or they rested their arms on the top.  I cut the board into 4 pieces --  two 2-foot sections (for the back and the seat) and two 1-foot sections (for the sides).  I pre-drilled holes and screwed the back and seat together at right angles. Then I screwed the sides on.  Next, I bored a 1-3/4" hole into each side about 3 inches from the top and sides to accomodate the dowel which acts as a safety bar so the kids don't fall out if they lean forward. (I borrowed the hole-boring tool from a neighbor. It's a small item that attaches to a regular drill).

I attached one eyehook to one side of the wooden dowel near the end, and one right to the side of the box. This acts as a removable safety bar. When the safety bar is in place, I use a snap clip to hold the eyehooks together, and keep the bar locked. This prevents the children from accidentally moving the bar out of place while they are seated.   Then I did an optional step and rounded the corners on the front of the sides with the jig saw to make it easier to pull with the wheels and to get rid of the hard corner so the kids don't bump it when getting in and out of it.

Next, I drilled two holes into the seat area and right through the top of the ladder, to accommodate the 2-1/2" bolts. Using the wing nuts, this is how we attach the box to the top of the ladder. The wing nuts make it easy to remove the seat from the ladder so you can use the ladder for other things during the off season.  Be sure to position the seat carefully so that it will be well balanced in all directions.

That's it! We painted and decorated ours with Mardi Gras streamers for extra fun. I'm sure there are many other variations, but this was our result. We have already used it at a Mardi Gras parade, and it was lots of fun.

Remember that ladders are required to be as many feet back from the curb as the height of the ladder to prevent falling ladders from throwing occupants into the path of an oncoming float.  The ladder is a great way for the parent to see the parade too by just standing a couple of steps up on the back. You'll need to be there to help small children catch their throws anyway.  Also remember that a parent should always stay with the ladder when children are seated in it. Do not leave them unattended, even for a second!

Other customizations people often add to their Mardi Gras seats:

  • Cushion or carpeting for seat comfort
  • Wheels attached to the top of the back -- this makes it easy to pull the whole ladder with the box already attached. If you have to walk a long way to the Mardi Gras parade! You can also strap your cooler onto the ladder while you're pulling it.  We recently added wheels to our ladderseat and it makes it so much easier to pull the whole ladder with the seat already attached.
  • Cup holders
  • Big net to catch Mardi Gras beads
  • Instead of a dowel, some people use a small board on a hinge for the safety bar.
  • Small hooks to hang beads or snacks or other things.
  • Safety strap from the bar going between the child's legs, to the bottom of the seat. This helps prevent a small child from slipping under the bar.
  • Seat belts

Have fun watching the Mardi Gras parades!

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