The Dirt

B is for Beads

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras: the only time of the year when the humble plastic bead is elevated to a coveted object that people are willing to be trampled for. The ecstasy of catching strand after strand is only diminished on Ash Wednesday when one looks around their living room to find bag after bag of useless, lead-painted beads.

Every New Orleanian has experienced bead fever first hand, but where did it all begin? 

Though the tradition of throws dates back to the very beginnings of Mardi Gras in the 1830's, it wasn't until the formation of Rex in 1872 that glass beads began to appear. And it was only when the mass manufacturing of plastic beads started, that the practice became synonymous with Mardi Gras itself. 

The colors of the original beads were determined by the first king of Rex. He wanted the colors to be royal colors – purple for justice, gold for power and green for faith. The idea was to toss the color to the person who exhibited the color’s meaning.

  Nowadays, with krewes spending thousands of dollars on beads, you have to work pretty hard not to catch any. But fear not revelers, there are plenty of special throws at each parade to keep the thrill of the chase alive! Nyx  has the purses, Endymion the light sabers and Zulu the coconuts. 

Remember: beads may come and get recycled, but a Muses shoe is forever! 


Mardi Gras


1. Always wear a costume. Good luck catching a coconut in a polo shirt.

2. Catch a bag so that you can stash your beads and go back for more! 

3. Don't be a dick. There are enough beads to go around! 

4. Pay attention! Getting beaned in the head with a 5 ft long strand of beads is more painful that you think. 


Happy Catching!



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