Monday, February 4, 2013

Parade throws more imaginative than ever

Megan Braden-Perry, | The Times-Picayune By Megan Braden-Perry, | The Times-Picayune 

Mardi Gras 2013 parade throws are lighted, plush, practical, noisy and nostalgic. Take, for instance, the stuffed replica of the landmark arch in Gretna that will be tossed by Grela float riders. And then there's the utterly useful toilet tissue, thanks to the always irreverent Krewe of Tucks.
In choosing throws this year, several krewes flexed their creativity muscles, but they apparently also factored in parade-goer satisfaction, the timing of their parades -- even green living.
Brand new throws include stuffed holy trinities of onion, celery and bell pepper designed to hang from car rear-view mirrors, decorated toilet brush scepters, beribboned riding crops, plush Pontchartrain Beach clowns, blinking pink martini medallions and multicolor-lighted LED Frisbees.
“People are clamoring for more lighted stuff; the beads and doubloons and cups aren’t as popular as they used to be,” said Hermes’ Larry DeMarcay. Hermes’ lighted wings that double as headbands, plush caducei, stuffed snakes, light-up Hermes medallions and pewter-colored chalices are all associated with the Greek god. Because Hermes was also the god of athletics, riders will throw footballs, multicolored LED Frisbees and light-up bouncing balls.
Endymion’s Darryl d'Aquin said, “We’re a night parade, so everything revolves around our lighted items.” Endymion’s 2013 theme is "Ancient Mysteries," but the new nine-section Pontchartrain Beach float will surely be what revelers remember. The huge float is based on nine different Pontchartrain Beach attractions, all tying in with the Zephyr roller coaster. Roughly 500,000 Pontchartrain Beach logo items will be thrown, including beach balls, light-up medallion beads and plush replicas of the clown statue that greeted Pontchartrain Beach guests. That clown "is definitely going to be the most coveted item,” d'Aquin said. Other new throws are light-up royal scepters, fans shaped like guns and Endymion slap bracelets.
The Krewe of Tucks plans some fun new throws this year, also. Founded in 1969 by Loyola students who weren't allowed into the old-line krewes, Tucks members glorify the toilet as “a sign of true wealth and royalty,” because having a toilet was once taxable and so a sign of prosperity. So, Tucks riders throw several toilet-themed items each year, but they believe their newest item will surely bowl over the crowd: More than 7,000 toilet brushes, decorated by krewe members as well as Magnolia School students and Holy Rosary High School students. 
Also new for 2013: beer barrel koozies and jumbo go-cups, in a not-so-subtle nod to the krewe's roots. Because Tucks was founded by frat boys, many throws are booze-related. One krewe founder, Lloyd Frischhertz, said, “Animal House probably didn’t have anything on us, except we did well in school and sort of made something of ourselves.”
As for Muses, a krewe known for its intricately decorated shoe throws, the parade isn’t solely about the shoes. “We try really hard to have at least some of our throws be useful,” said Krewe of Muses Captain Staci Rosenberg. “We’ve had toothbrushes, soaps, compacts, bandanas," she said.  
The parade’s theme isn’t revealed until the night of the parade, but the plush po-boy and stuffed holy trinity of onion, celery and green pepper suggest it might be food-related. Bead nets, shoelaces, Muses flag projector flashlights, fiber optic hair extensions, dry erase board and notepad combos, plastic flasks and screeching ray guns are also new this year. The re-Muse-able bags and Muses Mardi Gras cups are redesigned every year, making them must-catches as well.
But, let's face it. The shoe's the thing for Muses parade-goers. Rosenberg said she has heard just about everything on the parade route from people trying to score one of the coveted throws. What's her advice? "Be specific," she said. "Signs work. Yelling really loudly works." If someone asks for a pink shoe, chances are he or she will get a pink shoe, Rosenberg said. 
The Mystic Krewe of Nyx throws decorated wallets and purses each year because, as Captain Julie Lea said, “We want people to be able to use them, and since you’re catching your shoes from Muses Thursday night, you’re going to need a purse to go with ‘em!” The parade’s theme is confidential until parade night, but pink-lighted martini glass medallions, Tiffany & Co. box-style beads and plushies, and pink martini glass bracelets are all part of the Nyx collection for 2013. Only in its second year, the krewe has added tandem floats and 400 new riders, boosting its grand total of riders to a healthy 921.
The only parade to roll in Gretna, Grela is celebrating the city’s centennial this year by throwing plush replicas of the city's landmark arch, as well as wooden nickels modeled after the ones designed in Gretna in 1960. Krewe of Grela Vice President Al Kaiser plans to use West Bank landmark throws every year, in hopes that they’ll become Mardi Gras must-haves. “It’s not just Gretna pride, it’s West Bank pride,” Kaiser said. “Cleopatra moved from the West Bank to Uptown this year permanently, and I don’t want to do that; if people don’t want to go downtown, Uptown or to Metairie to see a parade, we want to give them an option.” 
The plan by the Rex organization to throw different themed beads from each float is "an idea whose time has come; we had to innovate,” Rex spokesman King Logan said. “We want people to notice the floats. People are trying so hard to catch things, and beads from each float with medallions of each float will help them remember the tableau.” He said he thinks the Honeybee, Jabberwocky and Panda Bear float throws will be some of the most memorable.
New Rex throws for 2013 include plush pillows and go-cups with His Majesty's Band Wagon printed on them, riding crops similar to those used by mounted Rex members, doubloons with more heft than usual, and, in an environmentally conscious move, beads strung with cotton string instead of plastic. Because the cotton is biodegradable, Rex beads that are caught on trees will eventually fall off after enough rain, Logan said. 

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