HomeCultureAn Open Letter To The Guy Throwing Beads and Other Stuff From the Top of a Float at Mardi Gras

An Open Letter To The Guy Throwing Beads and Other Stuff From the Top of a Float at Mardi Gras

Dear Mr. Bead Thrower,

I understand that beads are an essential part of the Mardi Gras festivities and that parade goers are expected to begin honing their bead catching skills at an early age. I also understand, and partake in, the thrill of the bead catch. While I don’t lift up my shirt like some girls to increase my chances, I do yell, wave my arms a lot and point at myself, as in you want to throw those beads to me mister. I admit that I get excited when I catch a bead, no matter how ordinary, and this excitement increases when the bead in question is oversized, has a medallion attached to it or lights up.

While I have not had the pleasure of riding on a float and throwing colored objects at people, I imagine it can’t be all that hard. You have all year to prepare for standing up on a trailer covered in paper and glitter, and all year to decide what your bead strategy will be. Will you toss lightly to children lined up along the barricades? Will you use the up and over technique so that beads drop down lightly into the crowd? Will you choose to throw items like cups, Frisbees and doubloons, which are lightweight but still received appreciatively? Or will you opt to just sip from your adult beverage, forgetting that you are supposed to be throwing things at all?

To the guy all the way at the top of the float on Fat Tuesday, you should have chosen the last option. You, mister bead thrower, whether fueled by too much testosterone, liquor, or a complex from not not making the football team in high school, are unfit to throw beads at Mardi Gras. I’ll explain why in case you plan to employ your throwing technique again next year.

As your float passed me on the street, you made eye contact and then pointed at me, before letting loose a strand of thick pink beads, slingshot style. The first time you threw the beads and they proceeded to whiz by and lightly graze the side of my head as I tried to remove myself from the line of fire, I was willing to give you a pass. But when your float stalled in front of me and you threw another strand in the same manner with a look of triumph on your face and they hit me directly on the cheek, you went too far.

What you may not know, and what I’d like to inform you of in this letter, is that I have a huge box of these beads at home and am not in need of yours. Yes, the thrill of the pursuit and the challenge of the catch is exciting, but watching you plot to sever my head with one quick thrust of the elbow is not. This leads me to my second point.

To the guy who has things besides beads to throw, how exactly did you go about choosing what these objects would be? Did a dialup plastic telephone in a cardboard box that weighs more than a small child itself really jump out at you as the perfect throw? I think I speak for the child in front of me who is probably still sporting a bruise on the side of her head from receiving this telephone when I tell you that you made a poor choice. Take a cue from the city of Mobile and get some MoonPies next year, or follow the lead of New Orleans’ Zulu Krewe and walk alongside the float and hand out your telephones instead. To you and the bead thrower at the top of the float, I’d like to conclude by saying thanks, but no thanks, for your badly thrown beads and plastic telephones. I’ll wait for the next float.

Erin Z. Bass

Mardi Gras on the Co
New Orleans
  • Who Dat / February 23, 2010

    As a member, and float rider of the Krewe of Gabriel, I truly apologize for your experience. Mardi Gras should be a family experience that many members and float riders truly do appreciate. I can only speak for myself, who rides at the top of one of the floats, sometimes I have unintentionally hit unsuspecting members of the crowd with beads. After which I have always made eye contact with that person to offer my apologies. After reading your blog, this was not the case.

    I find your experience, with this float rider, a sad case of what is sometimes wrong with riding floats on Mardi Gras. If you should remember the design of the float, I will take appropriate measures to speak with the float captain to remind him of why we ride the floats.

    Once again, I offer my sincere apologies for your experience. Please understand these actions were only one of over 250 float riders.