GALVESTON — The trick to bead throwing is to ball the necklace up a little before you toss it. Treating it like a pair of Spanish bolas makes the plastic chain liable to snap before it reaches it target.
“You find somebody and you throw it gently to them,” said Hita Dickson, before handing a reporter a pair necklaces.
Dickson and Kristy Fitzgerald looked down at the afternoon crowd from a second-story balcony on the south side of The Strand. Drinks in hand, they waved to the crowd below, mostly children and families at this time of day, and tossed necklaces to whoever caught their attention.
The reporters’ first toss fell short of his intended target, his second landed and was caught by two, who preceded to get into a brief tugging match.
Both women are members of the Z Krewe, one of the handful of groups that sponsors parades and parties during Galveston’s Mardi Gras celebration. The krewe has been renting out the balcony above the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for 16 years.
Beads are a big deal during Mardi Gras and on The Strand, where balconies line either side of the street, necklaces can fall at a constant rate. From positions up high, krewe members hold a certain amount of power over the groundlings.
“The guys will drop their pants, the women will lift their shirts, but I don’t want to see that kind of stuff,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald, a native of Katy, said that one year she spent $5,000 on beads in preparation for Mardi Gras. Just inside the door, she unzipped a suitcase filled with her arsenal for this year.
Inside were dozens of plastics bags filled with beads organized by color. The gold-green-purple combination would go with her first costume of the night, “a Mardi Gras Indian.” Later, when she changes into an Italian jester costume, she’ll switch to green, white and red beads to match il Tricolore.
The investment into the beads are part attention to detail, part self preservation, the women said.
“Sometimes when you throw real cheap beads, they’ll throw a beer bottle back atcha,” Dickson said. “A friend of mine once got a tooth knocked out.”
Those incidents are few and far between though, and the bad actors are quickly forgotten as the routine goes on.
Grab a necklace. Ball it up, make eye contact with your target and throw with a little more muscle than you think you need and repeat, all night long.
Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.