Here we are in the final push of Mardi Gras, and while most of us have mountains of beads, doubloons, and other trinkets by now (and for the lucky ones a sparkly shoe, purse, or bra to go with them), we all know what we are really angling for…a prized Zulu coconut! The Zulu coconut is, quite possibly, the most desirable throw of the Mardi Gras season. Each coconut is hand painted by a Zulu rider and, like a Muses shoe or a Nyx purse, not given out recklessly. If you’re going to get up early enough to catch Zulu (this parade rolls at 8AM), you want to make it worth that early alarm. Here are a few tips on getting your very own Zulu coconut.
Bring a net
A small net with a long pole is ideal for snagging a coconut. Since riders are not allowed to throw coconuts (think coconut to the head), reaching out toward a rider with your net allows him or her to drop a coconut in with ease. For extra flair and noticeability, decorate your net with Mardi Gras beads or Zulu-related trimmings.
Get up Early!
With an 8:00 start, it’s important to get out of bed early so you can land a spot up front. Whether you’re standing on the street or you’re above the crowd on a balcony or in a grandstand, being as close to the floats as possible will offer you your best chance at coming home with a coconut in your loot bag. Start early…you can always nap after Rex!
Wear Something Eye Catching
Whether it’s a colorful wig, a crazy hat, a sparkly headpiece, or something a little more revealing, you want to dress in a way that separates you from those around you. Keep in mind, there will be thousands of people on the parade route and only a limited number of coconuts, so you will need to find a way to stand out in the crowd.
Bring a Cute Kid
Let’s be honest…cute kids and attractive females get all the good stuff. You lovely ladies are all set, but if you’re a man, or a woman who just wants a little extra insurance, an adorable tike is your ticket.
The first year my son and I forked out the money to watch from a balcony, we expected to get a coconut or two. (It was a great location, and he was cute.) Unfortunately, we stationed ourselves directly next to a very nice man who, as it turned out, knew just about every rider in the parade. After half of the floats had passed, our neighbor had eleven coconuts, and we had not scored a single one. When our nice, new friend gave number twelve to my dejected son, the coconut curse was broken. My son scored four more of his own and came home a happy kid.
Befriend Your Neighbors
Occasionally, you will find yourself next to a generous soul who wants to share their good coconut fortune. (See previous tip.) If you have a good social game and have struck up a Mardi Gras friendship, this person may be inclined to share his or her goodies. If you are the lucky coconut magnet, be that kind person that shares with those around you. It’s not expected, but it may bring you some good juju.
Don’t Be Too Proud to Beg
If you want a coconut, ask for one…tirelessly. Riders like to see some excitement about their works of art, and they will usually reward those that make a genuine effort to get one.
Make Eye Contact
There will be at least a dozen riders on your side of a float. Choose a rider that looks promising and lock eyes with him or her. Since you only have a few seconds to make a connection, “playing the field” will likely get you nothing.
If you are heading out to Zulu, good luck to you! And if you see me out there on the route, say hi! I’ll be the purple-haired lady with the sparkly headband and a big net, making smalltalk with my parade neighbors. I’m still debating whether or not to borrow a friend’s toddler…