Mardi Gras

Rex royalty take an extended pause in front of the charred carcass of a St. Charles Avenue mansion to make a toast, carrying on a tradition that began in 1907, at a house that looms large in krewe and Mardi Gras history in New Orleans, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Chris Granger/The Advocate via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — From children clamoring for tossed strands of beads, to revelers dressed up as “blind referees” poking fun at the NFL, to high school bands marching down the street, people in New Orleans celebrated Fat Tuesday with flair and fun.

Mardi Gras season began Jan. 6 and featured weeks of parades, fancy-dress balls, king cakes and generalized frivolity citywide. Fat Tuesday is the culmination of Carnival. The festivities kicked off in Tuesday’s pre-dawn hours with the Northside Skull and Bone Gang in skeleton costumes waking people to celebrate the day. The fun continued throughout the day and across the city with parades, costumes and balls.

“I feel like a rock star for a day,” said Van Bender, carrying a sequined replica of the Death Star from the Star Wars movies and joined by friends carrying sequined images of Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper. He said there’s a sense of joy on Fat Tuesday. “It feels like peace on Earth. Everyone’s filled with love. Everyone gets along. Everyone helps each other.”

After rainy weather affected some parades Sunday, Tuesday dawned cold but sunny. People — some of whom came out before sunrise to stake a good spot along the parade route — bundled up under multiple layers. Lorenzo Bridgewater of Slidell, Louisiana, got out at about 4:30 a.m.

“I doubled up my jeans, doubled up my socks. I’m wearing a sweater underneath this, so I’m pretty layered up,” he said.

Pete Fountain’s Half-Fast Walking Group was again a crowd favorite. The clarinetist died in 2016, but the walking group he led for years still meets each Carnival Season at Commander’s Palace restaurant and strolls the parade route. Lance Pierce, of Leonardtown, Maryland, got up early, ahead of friends, to see the group.

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