Carson City's own group of Mardi Gras revelers have 4,000 beaded necklaces from New Orleans, but because of strict Nevada Day Parade rules, they will not be throwing them into the crowd from a float.
In honor of the unsinkable spirit of New Orleans, about 20 locals who attend the annual event sought to drive a Mardi Gras float in the Nevada Day Parade, which is celebrated on Oct. 29, and throw the traditional plastic bead necklaces. That idea was quickly vetoed by the Nevada Day Committee.
"You can't throw anything from a float into the crowd," said Kimberly Macaluso, office manager for the Nevada Day events. "It's a liability issue, but they will allow you to have walkers to pass out what you would like to pass out to the crowd."
That's the option Casino Fandango is taking. Its employees will pass out about 5,000 bead necklaces to the crowd this year.
Loreen Hautekeet, who has crewed a Mardi Gras float for two years, said throwing the beads is part of the fun and the tradition. So, no throwing beads, no float.
"We're very disappointed," she said Tuesday. "They are not going to relax the rules. It's a liability issue and they don't want kids to run out into the streets."
Since 2003, Carson City contractor Tom Metcalf, owner of Metcalf Builders, has taken a group of friends to New Orleans to crew a float he sponsors for the parade. It's still unknown if the merrymaking event will take place as usual on Feb. 28, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, because of destruction wrought to the Big Easy by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Katrina flooded about 80 percent of the city a month ago. After drying out, Rita dumped more rain and pushed waters over repaired levees. Residents are returning to some sections of the city.
"We've had a blast," said Metcalf, who returned to Carson City Wednesday from Baton Rouge, La., where he oversaw the $3 million reconstruction of several buildings owned by a client. "We do the uptown route so it's all families and tourists."
His friends make up the Krewe of Pygmalion, a float owned by New Orleanian businessman Jack Rizotto. Metcalf has brought local doctors, other developers and business owners, including the Hautekeets, who own Mike's Pharmacy, with him to New Orleans. Four hours on a float for 20 people costs Metcalf Builders about $15,000.
Mardi Gras is a free event and traditionally the participants and sponsors cover the cost of the beads, float decorations and costumes.
Metcalf said in four years the Krewe of Pygmalion has thrown about 80,000 beaded necklaces .
"I've got four bags of beads coming back with me - 4,000 beads," he said. "I'm bringing them back for Nevada Day."
He said if they can't throw them, then the group could just pass them out.
Metcalf said the flashing associated with beaded necklaces is not typical for the parade. It's even prohibited, though not everywhere.
"And what happens on Bourbon Street stays on Bourbon Street," he said.
Bourbon Street is not located along the parade routes.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.