When you think of Mardi Gras, beads typically come to mind. In fact, there are many different items spectators can catch while watching the parades. Many of the New Orleans krewes work throughout the year to come up with creative items to throw during the parades. For regulars, it’s a challenge to collect all the different items and some of the local businesses in the city like to display their stash from parade throws in the window for all to see. Visitors coming to celebrate Mardi Gras for the first time enjoy bringing home parade items because they make for cool souvenirs. For some specialty items, it can get competitive among spectators. The whole family will have fun trying to catch the different Mardi Gras items. If you have small children make sure to keep a close eye as the parades routes tend to be crowded. Consider bringing an empty backpack to store everything that you catch. Here is a shortlist of items commonly thrown during Mardi Gras parades.
Mardi Gras Beads
By far one of the most popular items you’ll see being thrown at Mardi Gras parades is beads. These colorful beads are coveted by everyone attending the festivities. Mardi Gras beads can be found at many events around the city, not just at the parades. Note: Contrary to popular belief it’s not customary to flash your bare chest when asking for Mardi Gras beads.
Doubloons are a crowd favorite and first appeared in the 1960s. They are commonly painted in Mardi Gras colors purple, gold, and green. Make sure to watch out when these little pieces of treasure are being thrown as they tend to be scooped up quickly by both children and adults.
It’s also common to see decorative cups being thrown into the crowd. Don’t worry, the cups are made out of plastic. If you have the opportunity to see a collection of Mardi Gras cups you’ll notice a change in design from year to year.
Keep an eye out for rare decorative high heel shoes. This specialty item might not be the best for walking around town in but they will look great as home decoration. Just be sure not to get hit with a flying shoe!
Another specialty item that many parade-goers seek is Zulu coconuts. You will only have the opportunity to get one during the Zulu Krewe parade and there is a limited number. The krewe spends a lot of time during the year creating these colorful coconuts. In the past, Zulu coconuts were thrown from moving floats, however, in recent years they have switched to passing the coconuts out to prevent breaking. You’ll have to be standing in the right place at the right time to get one.
Keep an eye out for other items such as sunglasses, purses, and even toilet brushes!