MARDI GRAS THROWS
The throwing of trinkets to the crowds was started in the
early 1870s by the Twelfth Night Revelers, and is a
time-honored expectation for young and old alike. In 1884
(over 100 years ago!), Rex started using medallions
instead of trinkets. These medallions are represented by
Throughout the parade, masked riders stand atop two and
three tiered papier-mache, tractor-towed constructions
from which they throw plastic cups, and beads, as well as
metal doubloons to the eager crowd.
These doubloons are aluminum and anodized in many
different colors, and they depict the parade theme on one
side and the Krewe's emblem on the other. If you're lucky
enough to catch one, hold onto it -- they have become
collectors' items. The riders often spend over $1,000. on
their individual stock of "throws" to give out
during the parade.
In the early days of the festivities, merry-makers used
to carry bags of flour that they would throw at each
other. When a mischievous few mixed pepper with their
flour, the practice had to be discontinued and safer
things thrown. These days, the typical throws are beads,
doubloons, and, in recent years, Zapp's potato chips,
which come packaged in Carnival colors.
Probably the most valued throws are the hand-painted
coconuts tossed by the krewe of Zulu. Onlookers vie
energetically - sometimes boldly - to catch the most
"stuff". BE WARNED - many an ordinarily gentle,
sterling-headed grandmother will stomp your knuckles
bloody for that aluminum doubloon, and that bamboo and
Most important, never ever put your hand on the ground to
pick up anything! If you want those beads or that
doubloon, put your foot on it and don't lift your toe
until you have it firmly in your hands.
Other tips for catching favors include taking a nun in
habit with you, and standing under a street lamp: she'll
be a favorite target for the good Catholics on the
floats. Or make a posterboard sign that says
"John" and hold it up at each float, figuring
that there must be at least one guy named John on every
Or cut a large bleach bottle in half and attach the spout
to a broom handle so that you have a handy tool to hold
up to the riders. Another version of this is to turn an
umbrella inside out and hold it up to the riders.
Some parade goers with kids use a special 8 to 10 foot
ladder fixed with a bench at the top for the little ones,
while parents stand below balancing them. These pre-made
parade ladders can be bought at many local hardware
stores and cost about $60. Ladders should not be hooked
together, placed at intersections or against barricades,
or left unattended - or the police will confiscate them.
The estimated size of the Mardi Gras crowd is based on
the amount of trash generated. A good crowd is one that
has produced 2,000 or more tons of refuse. Each parade is
followed by the Sanitation Department with its street
sweepers, water and brush trucks, and blowers. Watching
them is almost as much fun as watching the parade!
Go back to the Mardi Gras page, or
on to Colors.