What's a Mardi Gras Throw?
Mardi Gras throws are a time-honored tradition for revelers of all ages. The name describes exactly what these items are: objects that parade members throw to parade-goers as the floats pass them by. Though the items have changed over the years, the practice of throws has been in New Orleans for over 130 years.
The first throws were used in the early 1870s. A krewe called the Twelfth Night Revelers began throwing cheap glass bead necklaces to crowds. The practice was so well-loved that other krewes began adopting it, and it soon became expected for all krewes.
In 1884, Rex began throwing medallions instead of trinkets. This practice evolved into the modern tradition of throwing doubloons, which are colorful and are customized by parade.
Modern krewes throw much more than just trinkets and medallions. There are about 60 krewes of all types that parade during Mardi Gras season, which starts a few weeks before Fat Tuesday. Each krewe has their own unique set of throws. To get a variety of throws, you'll have to venture out to different parades, as you'll find something different at each.
Krewe members often spend all year preparing these throws for Mardi Gras, and parade-goers who are lucky enough to catch them hold onto them dearly. You might be thrown a cup, a long chain of beads, a stuffed animal, or a hand-painted pair of sunglasses. Super Krewes like Bacchus, Orpheus and Rex throw out doubloons, while the Zulu parade throws their highly coveted hand-painted coconuts. The all-female Krewe of Muses throws ornate hand-painted high-heeled shoes. Another female krewe, the Krewe of Nyx, throws gorgeous dazzling purses. Colorful beads, which are perhaps the most iconic symbol of Mardi Gras, are thrown by the handful at every parade.
You'll hear parade-goers shouting the time-honored plea, "throw me something, mister!" The idea that flashing your body parts will get you a throw is a myth, however. Throws are given out constantly during the parades, so as long as you're in the action, you're almost guaranteed to go home with a few keepsakes.