Carnival krewe members are loading floats with an arsenal of throws they hope will make you channel your inner Tony Williams, snatching them from the clutches of fellow paradegoers like a football from a Bengals fan.
Whether it’s a plush bear from Endymion’s Valentine’s Day theme, one of Bacchus’ kids games or a purple toilet brush from the Krewe of Tucks, this season’s Carnival throws continue the evolution beyond beads and doubloons.
The Krewe of Zulu, whose painted coconuts are traditionally among the most highly sought throws on Fat Tuesday, has taken to laser-etching its coconuts with a Z to let people know the authentic ones from counterfeits that have popped up for sale.
“It’s the first time,” said James Norwood as he laid out this year’s throws at the Zulu shop on North Broad Street. “So you know it’s genuine.”
Norwood said the shop has put together 1,110 sacks of 50 coconuts. “And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said, noting there are about six or seven others putting sacks together.
Many of Zulu’s throws are traditional, including a miniature spinning tambourine drum on a stick, though there is a new bead marking this year’s mascot, “The Governor.”
With the theme “Wars That Shaped Early America,” the Rex organization also hopes to create collector’s items, said spokesman King Logan.
Rex has tossed float-specific throws from its Fat Tuesday parade since 2013. But this year, for the first time, each of the 20 floats that carry out the theme will have its own cup, beads and plush toy keyed to the theme.
“We expect to see some baseball-card-like trading out there,” Logan said.
The all-woman Krewe of Muses, which rolls Thursday, will once again hand out its signature, one-of-a-kind throw: hand-painted and glitter-covered shoes made by its riders.
Captain Staci Rosenberg said the shoe tradition began organically as a sort of homage to the Zulu coconut, and now many Muses riders board their floats with as many as 30 to hand out.
“They put a lot of love into them,” she said.
Rosenberg said Muses is doing something new this year: handing out temporary tattoos of artwork from its signature Sirens float, which portrays the mythological creatures in a swamp setting.
The catch, however, is that the float, created three years ago, is at the end of the parade and will be the only float giving them out.
“I’m biased, but I think it’s the most beautiful float,” Rosenberg said, “and we wanted to make sure people stayed until the end of the parade.”
In Metairie, throws for the Krewe of Caesar, which rolled Saturday, included a plush cheetah and an ax, along with traditional light-up, glitter-filled rubber balls, doubloons, beads, throwing discs and coozies.
The Krewe of Orpheus, when it rolls Uptown on Lundi Gras, will throw plush spears and dragons, a black, sequined trilby-style hat and a plastic trumpet that plays its own music.
The Mystic Krewe of Nyx’s throws center on its signature item, a purse. Nyx throws handmade purses, glittered and bejeweled, while other variations are plastic and plush, and the icon makes an appearance on a bracelet. Other throws including a light-up plastic microphone, guitar keychain, pink Elvis-style sunglasses and beads that include dice.
In addition to the purple toilet brush, Tucks’ throws Saturday will include a green toilet plunger, a fly swatter with the Friar Tuck mascot’s face, coozies and a pair of glasses that look like toilet lids. The theme this year is “Tucks Saves the Day,” and one of the throws is a green cape with a T in the style of Superman’s S.
Dan Kelly, president of the Krewe of Endymion, said the Mid-City parade decided to go all Valentine’s Day in its throws this year because it rolls on Saturday, the same day as the holiday.
For the last three months, riders have been buying up throws — including 60,000 footballs — in preparation. Endy, the parade’s mascot, is portrayed as Cupid on several throws, and most of the throws in this year’s offerings light up.
“The members have loved it all,” Kelly said.
The Krewe of Bacchus’ theme this year is “Children’s Stories That Live Forever,” with throws that include doubloons shaped like books, paper airplanes, Lego-style blocks, puzzles, sidewalk chalk and other similarly themed items joining the stable of grape-shaped foam footballs, barrel coozies and traditional Bacchus beads and doubloons. Bacchus rolls on Sunday.
Editor’s note: This story was changed on Feb. 10, 2015, to more accurately describe the throws submitted by the Mystic Krewe of Nyx.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.