The idea of joining 1.5 million revelers in New Orleans for Mardi Gras made this slightly claustrophobic traveler nervous. However, experiencing similar parades in Shreveport with more locals than tourists was appealing. I just wasn’t prepared to be caught up in the bead mania.
Mardi Gras was the first celebration of the French who landed in Louisiana on that Tuesday before Ash Wednesday over 300 years ago. In the 1700s, then secret societies (or krewes) held balls and other festivities. New Orleans torch bearers led night parades sponsored by these groups in the 1830s with the first daylight event debuting in 1872 — about the time “throws” from floats were first recorded. In the 1920s, bead throwing began in earnest but with glass beads from Czechoslovakia and Japan.