I don't know about Carnival celebrations in other countries, but at what we call Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar), the people riding the floats throw strings of cheap, shiny plastic beads at the crowd. People line the parade route screaming, pleading beeeaaddsss!, as if the nobility were dispensing gold coins to the peasants. What exactly happens to all these baubles over the next few days is a bit of a mystery.
In this photo, a spectator is using a ploy that is either fraudulent or just weird, a sign begging "BEADS FOR THE TROOPS." "Support our troops" signs and stickers are common in the U.S. these days. Even those of us who are horrified by Bush's military adventures have respect for the men and women in the field. Does the man holding the sign intend to send box loads of trinkets to soldiers in Iraq? Is there a more selfish reason? Either way, it's pretty strange.