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Mardi Gras in New Orleans: glitzy balls, then the parades

'Carnival Time' in New Orleans: Mardi Gras opens with glitzy balls; then come parades, parties

In this Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 photo, the Mystic Stripers Society parade rolls along Route A during Mardi Gras, in downtown Mobile, Ala. Through a se...
CCH Pounder, actress on the television series NCIS New Orleans, throws beads from a float during the Krewe of Proteus parade in New Orleans, Monday, F...
Members of the all-male dance group "The 610 Stompers" perform during the Krewe of Proteus Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Th...
Parade-goers vie for beads and trinkets during the Krewe of Proteus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The day is known as Lundi...
The Krewe of Proteus Mardi Gras parade roles down Napoleon Aveune in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The day is known as Lundi Gras, the day befor...

First Mardi Gras

In this Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 photo, the Mystic Stripers Society parade rolls along Route A during Mardi Gras, in downtown Mobile, Ala. Through a se...

Lundi Gras

CCH Pounder, actress on the television series NCIS New Orleans, throws beads from a float during the Krewe of Proteus parade in New Orleans, Monday, F...

APTOPIX Mardi Gras Lundi Gras

Members of the all-male dance group "The 610 Stompers" perform during the Krewe of Proteus Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Th...

Mardi Gras Lundi Gras

Parade-goers vie for beads and trinkets during the Krewe of Proteus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The day is known as Lundi...

Mardi Gras Lundi Gras

The Krewe of Proteus Mardi Gras parade roles down Napoleon Aveune in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The day is known as Lundi Gras, the day befor...

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Revelers danced into the wee hours Tuesday at glitzy balls, kicking off the annual Mardi Gras bash that spills costumed merrymakers into the streets of New Orleans for partying, parades and trinkets tossed from passing floats.

Al Johnson, singer of the catchy Mardi Gras tune "Carnival Time," served as grand marshal of the Red Beans and Rice foot parade, a Monday prelude to the all-out revelry known as "Fat Tuesday." He and others downed traditional fare of spicy red beans and rice before attending the Orpheus Ball, one of several as the partying began in this Mississippi River port.

Johnson told The Associated Press his catchy song -- now synonymous with the annual Carnival seasons -- got its inspiration from the Lower 9th Ward, a New Orleans district devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "It all started down there," he said of the Louisiana neighborhood where levees broke and surging storm-waters splintered wooden homes. But after Katrina, he said, "Life is going on."

Many revelers dressed up for the occasion. Friends Alexandra Sergutin and Ashley Dornier of New Orleans said donning elegant gowns for the Carnival balls is one of their favorite Mardi Gras activities.

"It feels good to be a part of that tradition. It really does. It touches your heart," said Sergutin, draped in colorful beads. "You're a part of something amazing and big."

Celebrations also were scheduled throughout south Louisiana and in coastal Mississippi and Alabama, sharing the traditions brought by French Catholic colonists in the 18th century. In Louisiana's swampy bayou parishes, costumed riders on horseback go from farm to farm, collecting ingredients for a huge community gumbo.

The parades wind down late Tuesday afternoon and outdoor celebrations cease at midnight, when the solemn Catholic season of Lent begins. New Orleans police ride horseback down the French Quarter's Bourbon Street to clear the last tipsy revelers at the end, signaling the party is over for another year.


Updated : 2021-09-25 18:31 GMT+08:00