Saturday, January 15, 2011

Those Damn Beads

The first morning I woke up in my new home of New Orleans, I couldn't wait to go out and explore. As I wondered Magazine Street in the Irish Channel my toes kept kicking string after string of plastic beads. Some places they were so thick, they blocked storm drains. The disposable bobbles adorned fences, power lines, balconies and caused gutters to glitter. It was if plastic beads had been a form of precipitation that week.

I remembered the night before on my ride into the city seeing a large wholesale warehouse with a sign reading MARDI GRAS BEADS. Mardi Gras is not just essential to the spirit and reputation of New Orleans, it's a major part of the economy. Tourism pumps millions into pockets through the usual avenues of hotels, restaurants and drinking establishments, as well as specialty services. Rent a reveler for conventions, beads and throw distributors, float makers and overtime for police and public works employees.  Everyone benefits from out of town drunks tossing money around for experiences they will never remember.

Tossed from floats by the tons every year,  the simple inexpensive trinkets have become a symbal for NOLA. Most locals won't be caught dead wearing them, except for higher quality ones on Mardi Gras. You could hold up a string of rabbit turds to see tourists clammer over each other to catch them. Of course the rest of the country has heard about flashing for beads. That only occurs down on Bourbon Street. The main parade routes wind through the old neighborhoods lined with families who have their young children propped up on ladders to experience the joy of a float reveler tossing them a string of beads or a plastic cup with the Krewe's logo printed on it.

With a little on line research I found a dozen or so bead distributors through out the state, each with at least a dozen or so employees. One business data site estimated the largest distributors of having 1 to 2.5 million in sales annually from beads and associated products. Some will end up hanging from rear view mirrors as the only memory of a lost weekend in New Orleans, the rest draped over tree limbs until the next storm.

Mardi Gras beads - Mardi gras Imports has a HUGE selection of beads, trinkets, and supplies! We carry every fancy and unusual bead that you could ask for, naughty or nice!

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