Monday, March 7, 2011

King Tug

OK. Our first Mardi Gras parade was ready to begin in Lafayette, LA (continuing from yesterday).

Perhaps the Krewe des Chiens parade was not a typical Mardi Gras parade, but it would give us a chance to learn about paraders' behavior and viewer etiquette in relation to the beads thrown from the floats.

We had read about the number of floats to expect in a typical Mardi Gras Parade, but the parade for dogs was atypical in that regard. This (above) was one of the few floats and about the only large one.

More often, the "floats" were the size of a cart or a child's wagon.

It also seemed that the king had appointed humans to distribute the beads on their carts to the beseeching audience along the route.

The king's court rode in the first carts. Shown here is Fergus, the Court Jester.

I believe this is Sophia, the Queen.

Before seeing a sign, we knew this was the King. This is Tug, and his expression silently announced "royalty."

We were so impressed with Tug that we have included a second photo. This guy knew he was the king, and his regal expression did not vary as he proceeded past us.

The unique feature of Mardi Gras parades are the beads, doubloons, medallions, and other items that are thrown from the floats.

Along the entire route, riders on the floats are implored to "Throw me something!" These words plus other creative accompaniments to the pleadings--waving, screaming, and signs--are all used to attract the attention of the "bead throwers."

As you can see, there are metal barriers all along the parade route. These are essential for everyone's safety, because without them the crowd would be right next to the floats or running into the street to pick up beads that had fallen near the floats.

To move along to a discussion of the bead throwers, note the red beads that have just landed on the shoulder of the man on the far left in the photo above. (You can double click the photo to enlarge it.)

In just this one parade, we noticed a variety of techniques in (what we thought was) the simple action of tossing beads to the crowd along the route.

The girl in the photo above has tossed the white beads (in flight on the left of the photo) in an underhand toss. The Underhand Toss puts loft on the beads, gives people in the crowd a chance to view their flight, and allows for a coordinated catch.

While we show some of the dogs in the parade, we will continue our discussion of the bead-throwing techniques.

(The dog above was dressed as Elvis.)

In the Side-Winder Throw, the rider, seated on a chair facing the front of the float, takes a string of beads and throws across his/her body into the crowd. Using this method, the thrower gets a good amount of force behind the throw, and if you're not looking--or taking a photo--the result of throwing in this manner can be painful.

(The dog in the photo above, a Spinone Italiano, accompanies his owner to work everyday.)

The Downward Throw would come from a person perched high on the float and packs a force similar to that of the Side-winder.

(We think the costume on the dog above represented a sundae.)

A Child Throw, if overhand can end up left, right, or straight, depending on the child's accuracy and whether or not the beads get hung up on a finger.

The Bulk Throw occurs when the thrower decides--because the end of the parade is near or because the bag of beads cannot be opened quickly--to throw the whole bag at once. A bag of beads flying at one's head can result in quite a surprise.

When the last parade entry (a Lafayette fire truck) passed the people along the route, kids rushed around the barriers and picked up beads that had not reached the crowd.

We had developed the first symptoms of "bead fever;" we started making some signs.

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