You never really know what you’re going to see at a Mardi Gras parade, but these 10 sights are usually pretty reliable:

  1. Royalty. Most larger krewes have designated kings and queens that reign over them for the season. They are the guests of honor at the parade, riding on makeshift thrones, sporting crowns, capes and other royal garb.
  2. Celebrities. Notable actors, musicians and other famous people are grand marshals for the big parades. But even if they aren’t riding, it’s common to see stars travel from Hollywood or elsewhere to the Crescent City to join in the fun.
  3. Umbrellas. Rain or shine, some people go all-out to decorate festive umbrellas and strut around with them all day and night. You’ll also see people turning them upside-down to catch beads and other throws from float riders.
  4. Bead trees. It’s inevitable that hundreds of strands of beads end up getting caught in the branches of trees along the route, creating a colorful and unique look. It happens to fences as well. Most people pick them up in a few days, so enjoy this unique “vegetation” while you can.
  5. Lots of satire. The Krewe d’Etat always has a satirical theme. There’s a heavy dose of it (in raucous form) in the Krewe de Vieux. Other parades often feature floats poking fun at local and national politicians, trends, etc. Nothing and nobody is safe, but remember, it’s all in good fun!
  6. Dancing in the streets. The 610 Stompers and Merry Antoinettes are perhaps some of the best-known local dancing groups, but there are plenty of others for both men and women. Although it’s all in fun, these folks spend weeks practicing their routines, so be sure to show them some love!
  7. Accessories flying in the air. The most famous of these are the decorated shoes thrown in the Krewe of Muses parade and the elaborate purses during the Krewe of Nyx, but you never know what a krewe will come up with next.
  8. The coconuts. These hollowed and decorated fruits thrown by members of the Krewe of Zulu are maybe the most coveted throws in all of Mardi Gras. If you’re at the Zulu parade, you’ll definitely see them, and if you’re lucky, catch one for your own collection.
  9. All the cups. In addition to beads and doubloons, plastic cups bearing the logos and special designs from each krewe are usually thrown during parades. And of course, there are the go-cups parade-goers use to carry around their drinks along the route.
  10. Toilet gear. Each year, it seems like the Krewe of Tucks adds more toilet-themed items to its list of parade throws. Get ready to catch decorated toilet brushes, plungers, toilet-shaped sunglasses and more during this parade. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see proud recipients hoisting them around during the rest of Carnival, either.