Since 1960 Mardi Gras doubloons have been part of the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. These doubloons were first designed by H. Alvin Sharpe, and made their parade debt as one of the throws of the Rex parade in 1960.
What is a Mardi Gras throw? In New Orleans parades are a spectator interactive event. People on the floats toss inexpensive items to the crowd, and whoever catches an item or picks it up from the ground takes ownership of the item. Strings of beads are a frequent throw, but Mardi Gras doubloons are often added to the mix.
What are Mardi Gras doubloons? Doubloons are coin shaped items. Doubloons are special keepsakes that are thrown to the crowd. Although they started with Rex, some other parades now include doubloons as one of their throws. In fact, the idea spread within a year or two to other Mardi Gras organizations. Doubloons give the name of the krewe, which is a group parading, the theme of the parade, and the year, with some very nice images. While not every parade krewe throws doubloons, many throw several colors, and a few throw different designs. Special designs on doubloons for a grand marshal or for a king or queen is not unheard of, and these sometimes are thicker than others.
Doubloons thrown are of aluminum and may have a plain or a reeded edge. Most are a standard size, which makes storing them easier, but a few different sizes occasionally appear. Doubloons can be colorized by being anodized, or may be simple aluminum. Occasionally, a parade will use a different shaped doubloon design, but most are round.
Today, due to the rising cost of aluminum, and a period during which doubloons were ignored by many in the crowd, the plastic cup has replaced them in popularity. This is also, in part, due to the fact the plastic cup contains parade information and at the same time can be useful. In fact, if a parade throws doubloons, it may be just a few members who actually have them to throw.