New Orleans pulls out 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads from city basins

By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather staff writer
February 13, 2018, 2:52:17 PM EST

Mardi Gras kicks off on Tuesday, Feb. 13, and millions of people will flood New Orleans to revel before Lent begins.

Since the 1700s, New Orleans has celebrated the day in extreme fashion. The Mardi Gras parade and infamous bead-throwing is a tradition that dates back to the 1870s.

While the plastic beads are synonymous to the city and its vibrant tradition, they pool in city basins, clogging waterways and creating a nightmare for city officials.

mardi gras beads

A rider throws beads as the Krewe of Endymion Mardi Gras parade rolls through New Orleans, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, officials pulled out more than 46 tons of plastic beads from a 5-mile stretch along the parade route.

That equates to 93,000 pounds of beads alone.

The beads were discovered as part of a large effort to clean the city's waterways after intense flooding over the summer.

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“Once you hear a number like that, there’s no going back,” said Dani Galloway, interim director of the city’s Department of Public Works at a press conference in January.

The city has cleaned nearly a quarter of the city's 68,000 basins since September, the Times-Picayune reported.

Specialized vacuum trucks were used to clear the basins.

The staggering number promoted a petition for the city to ban plastic beads from being thrown during the celebrations.

Nearly 15,000 people have signed the online petition.

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