Mardi Gras Throws
Beads, Coins, Cups, Goo Goo Clusters, and MoonPies
Mardi Gras Parade Float Loaded With Throws
For both hardcore and newly minted Mardi Gras enthusiasts, the acquisition of “throws” from parade krewe members on parade floats are the "reason for the season". From plastic bead strings to stuffed animals, commemorative coins (doubloons), and other regional favorites, krewe members dole Mardi Gras throws out by the tens of thousands during parades.
"Doling" out throws may be soft-pedaling it a bit. Krewe members seem to take a certain sadistic glee in flinging bead strings (or entire 20 packs of bead strings) as hard as they can. Occasionally this is done to get the beads as far back in the crowd as possible. But more often than not it is to terrorize the jaded crowd members who cower in fear and cover their faces in anticipation of the bead and coin onslaught.
It’s really not a big problem, but visitors to Mardi Gras are well advised to keep their cameras covered (when possible), and their eyes open. In the melee of a Mardi Gras parade, beads and other throws come hard and fast from every direction.
The most common throws are strings of plastic beads in traditional Mardi Gras Colors (gold, green, and purple). The easiest to get are the single color strings. But the most colorful and captivating are the multi-colored strings, or strings with unusually shaped beads.
Mardi Gras krewes also pass out cups, stuffed animals, balls, and coins or doubloons stamped with some combination of the krewe’s name, the city/year and an emblem. In some cities, regional candy favorites are popular with both krewes and parade goers.
In Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida, two chocolate covered treats are prized Mardi Gras throws and symbols of local tradition and the Southern hankering for sweets. The Goo Goo Cluster is a chocolate covered, caramel, marshmallow, and peanut filled treat that is popular, if occasionally painful (when hit with one), Mardi Gras throw. On the softer side, the southern staple MoonPie (a chocolate covered cake/cookie sandwich with marshmallow in the middle) is often hurled from Mardi Gras parade floats.
Parade Throw Etiquette
It goes without saying (or should) that kids come first. Parade etiquette (and common sense) dictate that if a child wants a particular throw, you, as the adult, hand it over. That said, among adults competition for throws, and the inevitable bargaining for said throws, is something of a free for all. But it’s all in good fun, and should be embraced for the thrill of the moment.
Regardless of your interest in collecting beads and other throws, if you attend Mardi Gras, it’s almost impossible not to get caught up in the experience of chasing and competing for throws. If you go, you’re sure to come home with a sack full. Not only do they make nice remembrances and gifts, but they can also be handy for when hosting a Mardi Gras party.
It should also be noted that in recent years many krewes and parading organizations have begun recycling beads with the help of local community members and charities. This not only reduces krewe expenses, but also raises money for worthy causes and cuts down on the number of new beads that must be manufactured.
Of all the many fun parts of Mardi Gras, collecting and trading throws has to be near the top of the list. It's competitive, but not overly so, and gives you a reason to reach out and talk to people, making new friends and collecting memories.