Some of the best Mardi Gras souvenirs this year can be yours for the catching -- if you're standing along the parade route. Tossed by the handfuls from floats, the best "throws" will include women's shoes, painted coconuts and tiny, water-squirting toilets.
Bobbi Mannino of Mardi Gras New Orleans tells ABC News that the tradition of throwing trinkets dates back to the 1870s. The hottest throws in recent years, she says, have included special, hand-decorated coconuts thrown by the Krewe of Zulu and, more lately, hand-decorated high-heel shoes thrown by the 650-member, all-female Krewe of Muses. (Krewes are private membership clubs whose members produce each one of the parades leading up to Mardi Gras, which this year falls on March 4.)
Mannino calls Muses' shoes "a cherished catch."
On their website, the Muses explain that their throws include beads, doubloons and medallions, with a smattering of specialty items commemorating events or milestones. But, says the site, the Muses have "elevated the game by incorporating their now-signature throw, the Muses Shoe."
When the Krewe's parade of 26 floats kicks off today at 6:30 p.m. local time, people lining its route will vie to catch footwear decorated by members such as Karen Neubauer of Richmond, Va., recently profiled by the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The paper calls Neubauer's colorful, throw-away shoes artwork fit for display. In fact, lucky people who catch them do display them: Neubauer, says the paper, has started a Facebook page, so that catchers can send in photos showing where the shoes are "living" after Mardi Gras.
Some of Neubauer's shoes have heels made out of Sno-Cone cups, Slinkys or doubloons. Others are decorated with plastic eyes or plastic grapes.
Earlier this week, the Krewe of Tucks gave the New Orleans Times-Picayune an advance peek at what its members will be throwing when their parade rolls on Saturday.
Tucks has a toilet fetish. A few of the group's more outrageous tosses will include pairs of sunglasses whose lenses -- shaped like toilet seats -- have lids that flip up or down. They will be throwing rolls of toilet paper emblazoned with Tucks' emblem, and miniature toilets, which, when opened, squirt water into the faces of the unwary. Did we mention the purple-bristled toilet bowl brushes? Parade watchers can catch those, too.
When the more decorous Rex parade rolls on Tuesday, Krewe members on its 30 floats will toss 20 different "Gods of the World" medallion necklaces, according to the Times-Picayune. A complete set, the paper says, would make "a heavenly souvenir."
Throwing stuff doesn't come cheap. Mannino tells ABC that each krewe member on each float spends somewhere between $350 and $1,500 of their own money for the trinkets that they toss.
Stephen Toomey, owner of Toomy's, a leading Mardi Gras supplier, tells ABC the humble Moon Pie -- a marshmallow treat -- remains an extremely popular throw. So popular, in fact, that Toomy's expects to sell more than 3 million to 4 million of them this year. Mannino says the Krewe of Mona Lisa & Moon Pie threw nearly 55,000 of them at its parade last week.