Houma-Thibodaux celebrates Mardi Gras.

Thousands of paradegoers will hit the streets for Mardi Gras today in communities throughout Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

The biggest parades are in Houma, but more of them will roll in Lafourche.

"It's a time-honored tradition, and all of the krewes spend a lot of money and effort on their parades so everybody can have a great time," said Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove.

He has ridden a vehicle in parades throughout the two-week season and will do so again as the Krewe of Houmas rolls starting at noon.

"It's been a great feeling seeing everyone in such a good mood," said Dove, who served as king of the Houmas parade in 1999. "To me, our Mardi Gras is even better than New Orleans. It's more families and more people know each other."

Houmas is the first parade to roll through west Houma today, followed by Kajuns. Bonne Terre starts at 4 p.m. in Montegut, the season's final parade in Terrebonne.

Four parades roll in Lafourche. Ghana decided to start an hour earlier than normal and will begin at noon in Thibodaux in an effort to avoid the greatest chance of rain. Others include Gheens in the community by the same name, Choupic in Chackbay and Neptune in Golden Meadow.

Spotty showers are possible this afternoon, WWL-TV Chief Meteorologist Carl Arredondo said. He forecasts a 20 percent chance of rain until noon, rising to 30 percent through evening with a high temperature around 72 degrees.

Here are some tips to help ensure you have a safe and happy Mardi Gras:

1. Be prepared

In Houma, dozens of floats will roll, and the parades will easily wind into late afternoon. Dress for comfort and consider the weather. Sunscreen, caps bottled water, food -- all are essentials.

Most locals already know the spots they plan to stake out. Where you go has a bearing on lots of things. Some stores, bars and businesses will let people use their restrooms, most for a fee or cover charge. Others close for the day. Porta-potties are located along the parade routes, but obviously they won't provide the comforts of home.

Crowds around the bars near Main and Barrow streets tend to be younger and can get can sometimes get too lively for kids.

Booze is a widely accepted part of Mardi Gras, but those who want to steer clear of it have options. Houma has a drug-and-alcohol-free zone at the public bus terminal at Barataria Avenue and Main Street. Areas around Southland Mall tend to be family friendly.

2. Wear a costume

Costumed revelers will find kindred spirits in the Krewe of Tradition. The group, started in 2013 with the goal of encouraging more people to wear costumes for Mardi Gras, has scheduled a Fat Tuesday foot parade starting at 2 p.m. at South Louisiana Feed and Seed, 7591 W. Main St. in Houma. A costume contest will begin at 3 p.m. at Le Petit Theatre at 7829 W. Main St. Entry is free, and kids must be accompanied by adults.

3. Play by the rules

Sure, Carnival can get wild and crazy, but you -- and the people around you -- will have a lot more fun if you play by the rules. Some of them are laws, some common courtesy and others common sense.

“Before you leave your home, you should have a designated driver or a plan to avoid driving altogether,” Lafourche Sheriff Webre said in a news release. “During the Carnival season, we have many more people on the roadways and many more children near the roadways, especially around parade routes. It is never a good decision to drink and drive, but making that decision at this time of year could be even more catastrophic. Please consider your family and innocent bystanders who could be harmed or even killed by such an irresponsible decision which can always be avoided."

Police also note that silly string and laser pointers are not allowed within 300 feet of any parade route. Designate a meeting place for family members in case they become separated; attach note cards to your small children that include your name, address and cellphone number; and teach youngsters to find a police officer if they become lost.

Keep a close eye on kids so they -- and anyone else, for that matter -- stay far enough way from the floats to avoid falling underneath them. If barricades are in place, stay behind them.

Police will be everywhere, and if you see someone breaking the rules, let them know.

4. Have fun

That's what Mardi Gras is really all about -- a traditional last bash before Lent begins with Ash Wednesday.

Terrebonne and Lafourche have a reputation as being a more family friendly Mardi Gras celebration than the one up the road in New Orleans -- a compliment considering tens of thousands of people will line the streets today with the express purpose of passing a good time.

It's a once-a-year opportunity for the community to celebrate one of its hallmark credos: "Laissez les bons temps rouler."