A Keepsake for Kids
So, it's only fitting that a tour introducing kids to the Spanish pirate Jean Lafitte culminates in kids receiving a doubloon.
Parades & Throws
Parades in other places are surreal experiences. When I went to the 4th of July parade in Massachusetts a few years back, I kept waiting and waiting for a big ole float to come around the corner with bright lights and marching bands and throws, throws, throws! Instead, there were dapper gentlemen driving vintage cars throwing... tootsie rolls. And not the jumbo ones either.
What about New Orleans?
Forget about tootsie rolls. Some of the best parade throws include: cabbages, ramen noodles, shoes, coconuts, potatoes, and of course cups. (I LOVE the cups!!)
Santa Claus was said to be the first person to throw little gifts during a Mardi Gras parade on January 7th, 1871. Seriously. I guess on the 12th day of Christmas he gave away all of his left over presents?
After Santa did it, other Krewes caught on. The Rex Organization led the way with glass beads- and then doubloons. The doubloon tradition dates to the 1960s. An artist from New Orleans, H. Alvin Sharpe, designed the aluminum throw for the Rex Organization's captain Mr. Darwin Fenner in the 1960s. To demonstrate that the doubloons were not harmful, he threw them at Mr. Darwin. (I'm not really sure how cabbages passed that test...)
These aluminum coins that resemble doubloons are still treasured throws (see what I did there?) Now, all kids taking our tours are guaranteed one of these unique throws- and you don't even have to elbow your way to the front of the crowd!
Mardi Gras for Kids
Mardi Gras Parades: schedule & routes.
Kid-friendly things to do during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Great suggestions for families bringing kids to Mardi Gras:
Indoor Places to visit to learn more about Mardi Gras:
* Full disclosure: Cabbages, potatoes, and ramen noodles are only thrown during the St. Patrick's Day parade in Orleans Parish and the Irish-Italian-Islenos Parade in St. Bernard Parish.
** Advice for attending parades in New Orleans: Look Up.
*** Patented throw catching strategy: Make sustained eye contact with the thrower in advance (don't wait for the last minute!), do a slight head tilt like you would to a waitress at a restaurant when you're ready for the check, put a desperate look in your eye, and smile. That'll usually do it. If not, put a kid on your shoulders. That'll definitely do it.