Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How To Catch Mardi Gras Beads Without Losing Your Shirt

There are lots of videos around showing women flashing their breasts in order to get Mardi Gras beads. That seems to be an extreme way to get some plastic trinkets thrown at you, in my opinion. But anyone who's been to a Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans will surely tell you, there are beads being worn by everyone, of so many shapes, styles and color in addition to the traditional purple, green and gold. But you don't have to show any skin to get them.

Although Mardi Gras street parades started around the early 1800's when the King of Carnival, Rex was created, the tradition of beads, doubloons (large coins), cups, and sometimes stuffed animals, called throws being tossed into the crowds from riders on floats did not start until much later. Beads which started out as glass necklaces, were offered to the crowds around 1870.

Throws are definitely a component of the Mardi Gras experience and have now been a regular part of each krewe's signature. There are about 60 Mardi Gras krewes, which are social organizations that participate in the parades. Some have throws with their krewe logo, and the fun is in seeing what they have that's different every year.

*** Catching Mardi Gras beads can be done without removing any articles of clothing. I have attended 2 Mardi Gras celebrations to date and came back home each time with bags full of beads; and I never flashed to get any.

Here are my tips for catching beads that are easy and won't have you humiliate yourself or get you arrested:

* The old technique of waving your hands in the air and yelling "Throw me something, Mister!" still works. Try to make eye contact with the float rider and if you flash anything, make it a smile!

* Look up always, don't try to pick up anything that hits the ground when the floats are going by. The crowds are pretty thick, people are likely to step on you. Besides there's plenty more on other floats.

* Pay attention to packs of beads betting tossed, these are great when you get them, but watch out, they can hurt if they hit you. Saw that happen to someone next to me in a parade...ouch!

* Last, but not least, find out where the parade route ends, especially on parades that are in the early part of the day. The krewes may still have throws and they don't want to carry them around now. They'll gladly give you their stash.

If you ever go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, relax and have fun, there's a lot to see and experience. The music, food, parades and culture are memorable. I think everyone should do it at least once in their life, there's nothing like it!

*** And make sure you have a bag for all the beads you're going to catch! :0)

Sondra Carpenter
The Mardi Gras Girl

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