Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 20, 2019 / Cristina Pennington
Beginning two weeks before Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras Day there is at least one parade daily. It is during these parades that the beads or throws are primarily used. The New Orleans parades are organized by Krewes which are member sponsored communities. During the course of the parade the krewe members toss out a number of different types of throws such as beads doubloons cups and stuffed animals or small toys. Make sure you bring a large bag pillow case or any other sturdy container to bring your "catch" home in. Prior to the 1960 s the beads were made from glass; however they are currently being made from plastic.
These doubloons are anodized in many different colors and made of aluminum. They usually depict the theme of the parade on one side and the emblem of the Krewe throwing them on the other. Over the years these have become collector s items. For the Bacchus Kings parade doubloons are thrown with the image of the Celebrity King on one side of the doubloon. And for those lucky enough to catch one and hold onto it it s a sure fire souvenir to be kept forever. Other more popular throws are cups (also known as dinnerware of New Orleans) stuffed animals and long pearl beads. Warning! Don t Reach Down to Pick Up Doubloons!! If you are at your first parade and start to reach down to pick up a doubloon with your hand you can expect your fingers to never be the same! Why you ask? When doubloons hit the ground all those around stomp the ground and rush to claim them.
Masks made from pale pastel plumage with shiny sequins are standard fare at Mardi gras Carnival and masquerade parties. There s an allure and style to them possessed by no other costume element. Much is made of our desire to pretend and the imagination s ability to do so. Few activities give us the opportunity as readily as does the costume party. Frills and flourishes that have no other place are found in abundance at parades of show costume-clad dancers wearing yards of sequined fishnet and feathered elegance. None of it would have the same mystery without the elegance of the mask. These beautiful adornments have a history of their own that heralds back to court functions in pre-Revolutionary France. There s the hint of a palace in every feathery sequined one of them.