Costume designer, environmentalist, Bearded Oysters Dance Troupe and Krewe of Kolossos founder and all-around Carnival juggernaut Katrina Brees has a new mission: convince krewes to use locally made throws. In 2012, she founded I Heart Louisiana, an organization that provides krewes with eco-friendly, locally made throws, props, costumes and entertainment. This Saturday, Krewe of Boo will use I Heart Lousiana’s throws in its annual Halloween parade, which rolls at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 through the perimeter of the French Quarter and into the CBD. Here’s an interview with Brees for more about the throws and I Heart Louisiana’s mission.
What throws can we expect to see at Krewe of Boo?
Some are by local food companies like Elmer’s (single serving bags of CheeWees and caramel corn) and Aunt Sally’s Pralines. PJ’s Coffee is roasting coffee (throws) right in the Marigny. Zydeco Bars are a sweet potato-based, GMO-free nutrition bar made in Lafayette, Louisiana. Giacona will manufacture souvenir cups locally. The Arc will provide redistributed toys, parasols, stuffed animals, footballs and costume items from past parades. Artists have created signature items for the Krewe, including voodoo dolls made in the CBD and hand-painted clay candy corn necklaces made in the 9th Ward.
Are Krewe of Boo signature throws more delicate than mass-produced throws? I'd be worried about people stepping on them and ruining them.
As any parade marcher can tell you, the ground is covered in broken imported beads. Our products are designed to withstand hitting the ground. They are also designed to be desirable enough that they would never be left on the ground for long.
Are local throws more expensive for krewes to use than beads from China?
Yes and no. Some beads from China are very cheap. Some beads are more expensive. The quality of the items we provide is priced equally, if not lower, than the imported equivalent. ... I Heart Louisiana is able to compete with pricing because we streamline design, utilize recycled materials and bring manufacturers directly to the krewes. Our shipping costs are obviously much lower, too. Krewe of Boo riders are each spending $500 on a selection of fabulous items.
These throws seem to hearken back to an earlier time, when glass beads and handcrafted throws were the norm. Is that a conscious tradition throwback?
Mardi Gras is a time for presenting our creativity and many want to reclaim that experience. When you ask krewe members what their favorite part of being in a parade is, many say it is making throws. It enables crafters of all skill levels to bond with their krewe mates. ... Sitting for hours over glue guns and glitter can open the door to lifelong friendships. Crafting is also therapeutic. Having a simple, creative outlet is a great way to spend down time, whether it is decompressing from a stressful day or keeping yourself sane while recovering from sickness.
What do people do with their throws? Do they hold on to them?
We intend our products to be cherished and utilized. Many of our throws have been selling in local gift shops and art markets as unique handmade crafts. It is time that the throw be more.