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Throw Me Something, Mister! It's Fat Tuesday!

Revelers ask for beads during a pre-Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, March 7, 2011. i i

Revelers ask for beads during a pre-Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, March 7, 2011. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Gerald Herbert/AP
Revelers ask for beads during a pre-Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, March 7, 2011.

Revelers ask for beads during a pre-Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, March 7, 2011.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Today's parades kick off in downtown New Orleans with the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club leading the way. Everybody throws beads and trinkets but the Zulus' greatest prize is a coconut, or "Golden Nugget". NPR's Audie Cornish got one in 2006.

The New Orleans Times Picayune has an editorial on Why You Should Throw Things At People From Floats, including

5. We can use beads and doubloons to armor the levees, because we sure don't want to use cups for bailing.

and

4. Because BP stands for Beads, Please!

NOLA.com has a short history of Mardi Gras, historically celebrated the day before Lent begins. Pope Gregory XIII established it, trying to ensure everyone finished having a good time before Ash Wednesday arrived and with the start of the fasting and prayer season leading up to Easter.

It's a bit early, but catch New Orleans's Paradecam later today from the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon.

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