Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 20, 2019 / Chris Burris
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.
In the early 90 s people began to tire of the thin strands of plastic beads and would actually just leave them laying on the ground so some krewe members began to throw larger beads or novelty type beads with a theme. So why throw Mardi Gras beads? There is a school of thought that the beads or representative of the jewelry that was worn by royalty. People stand on the side of the road begging trinkets. "Throw me something Mister" is a phrase you can hear over and over again. If you catch the eye of a krewe member they will reward you by throwing a string of beads or more to you.
It is usual that during the carnival aristocrats dress up as commoners men cross-dress as women and poor people dress up as princes and princesses - social roles and class differences are expected to be forgotten once a year but only for the duration of the festival. Rivertown s Mardi Gras Museum in New Orleans takes you through 100 years of Mardi Gras history showcasing floats memorabilia and pictures helping you understand all the history and culture of the festive holiday. There are lots of cheap hotels available both inside and out of the French Quarter so you can be as near or far from the parties as you like.