Louis Armstrong

Free Mardi Gras beads at New Orleans Airport

Going to New Orleans?

If your trip begins on a Friday, you’re in luck.

Since September, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has been hosting “Throw me something, Fridays” and offering free Mardi Gras beads to arriving passengers.

250-300 pounds of beads are handed out on an average Friday and on the Friday before Mardi Gras airport staff handed out 1100 pounds of beads – along with stuffed animals, balsa wood airplanes, luggage tags and other “Welcome to New Orleans” treats.

Reed Barnes, the airport’s customer service manager, told me that the purple, green and gold beads are handed, not thrown, to travelers from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. each Friday and that “No one has to lift their shirts” in order to get some beads. “Although,” said Barnes, “a lot of guys offer.”

As airport amenities go, free Mardi Gras beads are a nice touch. Especially because the airport buys recycled beads that have been cleaned and bundled by employees from a local charitable organization.

Stuck at LaGuardia Airport? Visit Louis Armstrong’s home

If you’re heading to New York City this summer, be sure to check out the NYC-ARTS.org Web site being unveiled today by the Alliance for the Arts.

It’s part of an initiative to spread the word about 800 or so New York area cultural organizations and features interactive maps and tons of information about free admission days, discounts, and special events.

Included, for example, is a link to the Louis Armstrong House Museum, which is located in Corona, Queens, about ten minutes from LaGuardia Airport.


The famed trumpet player’s house contains all the furnishings from when Armstrong and his wife Lucille  lived there and on guided tours visitors can hear audio clips from the recordings Armstrong made of daily life, including practicing his trumpet, enjoying a meal, or talking with his friends.

armstrong house

Through July 12th, the museum is displaying some of the 500 collages Armstrong created while on tour.