This year’s coolest Carnival throws blink, clunk and carry a tune

Bed nets, sunglasses and beads that play a Harry Connick Jr. tune featured in Mardi Gras parades

Catch a bead net Thursday at the Krewe of Muses parade, and you’ll have a leg up on snaring decorated sunglasses Saturday at Iris, beads that play a Harry Connick Jr. tune Monday at Orpheus and a hot-pink pillow in the shape of His Majesty’s Bandwagon at Rex on Mardi Gras. Those are just a few of the new throws that will be up for grabs at the coming Carnival parades.

The bead net — which, in other parts of the country, might be mistaken for a small butterfly net — is “a Muse-ovation. We’ve been looking for this for about five years,” said Staci Rosenberg, krewe captain and founder.

Other new Muses throws include a petite “ray gun” that makes a battery of sounds; a light-up “I (heart) Muses” medallion; shoelaces; and a purse-size flashlight that projects the Muses flag, “like the bat symbol for Batman — it’s Muse to the rescue,” Rosenberg said.

Muses’ signature plush throw for 2013 is the trinity of Louisiana cooking — celery, onion and green pepper — to hang from a rearview mirror. (And therein lies a clue to this year’s theme, which is kept secret until the parade.)

The 2013 cup features a design by Pedro Richard, a senior at O. Perry Walker High School and winner of the annual Muses art contest for Orleans Parish public school students.

At the Iris parade, keep an eye out for individually (and artistically) decorated sunglasses.

The krewe has put its focus on fancy eyewear as a signature throw this year.

Sunglasses are a symbol of this krewe, founded in 1917, because, a spokeswoman said, “We’ve never been cancelled in inclement weather in nearly 100 years. We like to say the sun always shines on Iris.”

Other Iris offerings: the perennially popular large plush iris; water bottles; flower beads featuring irises; and a collapsible lavender tote bag that, when folded up, tucks into a fabric iris. Beads accented with ceramic Louisiana license plates will help carry out the theme “Louisiana Festivals Reign Supreme.”

The music to an Orpheus parade-goer’s ears will come from a special 20th anniversary throw, part of the krewe’s celebration of “20 Years of Rhythm, Rhyme and Revelry.” The throw features a replica of the krewe’s Smokey Mary signature float; the small-scale float plays the chorus of “Smokey Mary Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train,” written by Connick, one of the krewe’s founders.

“It’s the piece de resistance of throws,” said Renee Maxwell, member of the Orpheus executive board of directors.

Also among Orpheus throws: a cup designed by YA/YA students; a doubloon paying tribute to musical legend Lionel Batiste; and 20th anniversary beads accented by a medallion spelling Orpheus with a sideways H that looks like a float.

Rex’s Bandwagon plush throw may be new, but that’s not the organization’s big news. The top story is that this year, every thematic float in the Rex parade will have its own beads. “All Creatures Great and Small” is the parade theme, and the beads unique to the Lion float will have a medallion shaped like a lion’s head; those for the Frog float, a depiction of a frog; and so on.

Likewise, the annual floats — such as the Boeuf Gras, the King’s Jester and the Butterfly King — will have their own throws, with miniature streetcars mingled with round beads on those tossed from the Streetcar Named Desire, for example.

No matter their color, the throws are environmentally green. “All Rex beads are strung with cotton string so they’re biodegradable,” a Rex official said.

Also making 2013 Rex news is its thicker doubloon, which hits the ground with more of a clunk than a clink. Rex introduced the doubloon to Mardi Gras in 1960 and, the official said, “year after year, this is what people are clamoring for, more than anything.”

Good thing bead nets come in handy for snagging doubloons, too.

Mary Lou Atkinson is a contributing writer. She can be reached at mlatkin@gmail.com.