The first year Bea Young rode with the Krewe of Iris, her throwing arm was out of commission for days afterward.
“Now I’m OK, because I learned not to throw overhand,” the 37-year rider said this week. “You keep your arm down, and you throw from the wrist.”
This weekend’s schedule of 19 traditional parades in a four-parish area features more parades than are scheduled on Mardi Gras weekend. And th…
As a daytime, all-women’s parade, Iris showers sunglasses and sunglass beads, trinkets, toys and headgear along the Uptown parade route the Saturday before Mardi Gras. The group this year will throw stuffed fabric Champagne bottles, snowballs and cellphones — with the date app set to Feb. 11.
A special collectible Iris captain's doubloon comes in the shape of an shiny black fleur-de-lis. Dealy-boppers and angel wings round out the collection.
Stuffed toys, novelty items, clothes and light-up beads are popular across the board, said Alyssa Fletchinger Higgins, vice president of Plush Appeal, which supplies krewes with throws.
"We did some metallic hula hoops this year that we sold out of. They're a little smaller than the big ones, so they fit on the floats," she said.
"Mardi Gras earrings. Funny wearables," she listed. "We sell a lot of tutus."
The joys and mystery of Carnival come in all different shapes and sizes, from superkrewes to neighborhood processions and everything in between.
The naughty, bawdy Krewe of Tucks has been setting the bar low for 50 years, acknowledged captain Lloyd Frischhertz, who helps dream up the scatological trinkets Tucks is famous for.
New this year: a toy toilet that comes equipped with lollipop “plungers”; gold teeth; and a giant foam hand that allows crowds to “express themselves” by positioning the bendable fingers in “any form they choose,” Frischhertz said.
A whistle is labeled “Blow Me,” while giant plastic cups boast “Size Matters.” Tucks’ standby, the vuvuzela horn, comes with an air pump to make the blast of noise that much louder, Frischhertz said. The parade rolls Saturday, Feb. 10.
The Krewe of Muses rolls out Thursday, Feb. 8, with an artsy collection of throws including a pillow, an Andy-Warhol-inspired iPhone case, an ivy headband and a colorful, wearable “buff.”
“It’s a versatile thing that developed from (the TV show) ‘Survivor,’” said Muses captain Staci Rosenberg of the buff. It can be worn as a headband or a neck scarf. “Really skinny people can wear it as a tube top,” she said.
The message is clear: You can stay in New Orleans and enjoy the greatest Mardi Gras celebration on Earth. Or you can drive 114 miles to the al…
Other Muses throws: a route-map zipper bag, spa socks inspired by artists Mondrian and Rothko, the ever-popular flashlight-bottle opener, a collection of Muses lapel labels and, of course, the krewe’s coveted hand-decorated shoes.
“We try to outdo everyone else and ourselves, which is, honestly, a challenge,” Rosenberg said. “And we have to have a balance, because there are definitely people who want plastic beads, but we really try to emphasize things that have a longer life span — fun and beautiful things that people will want to use and wear after Mardi Gras.”
Every parade will try to wow the crowds with quantity as well as quality.
New this year for Rex, rolling Mardi Gras, are glass beads, a soft football and individual float koozies. Pygmalion will hog the attention on Saturday, Feb. 3, with its hand-decorated pigs, covered in glitter and feathers. Also Saturday, Feb. 3, Caesar pitches plush axes, wands and light-up lanyards.
Riders in the Krewe of Orpheus, Feb. 12, celebrate its 25th anniversary with a flower theme across throws, said treasurer Robert Heinz.
New Orleanians will go to great lengths for their favorite king cakes. Now, devotees of the particular king cake from Dong Phuong (14207 Chef …
“We did a signature float package of LED throws for the (floats) Trojan Horse, Smokey Mary, Leviathan and the Dolly Trolley,” said Heinz of the superkrewe’s Lundi Gras night parade. “We have a throw for each of them, and they each light up. And since our floats have been associated with being the prettiest of Mardi Gras, because of the flowers we cut out and make ourselves, we have a lot of different flower beads — a hanging flower necklace, lightup beads and a plush iris."
The krewe also will throw LED fedoras and glitter masks.
“We throw a lot,” Heinz said. “I don’t want to see anyone carrying anything off at the end of the route. Whatever is up there gets thrown. And we get a lot.”
So what does an early New Orleans Mardi Gras mean?