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Costumes, beads give way to ashes in New Orleans
In the oak-lined Garden District, clarinetist Pete Fountain led his Half-Fast Walking Club on its annual march to the French Quarter.
Fountain, 82, gave a thumbs-up to start off and his band launched into “When The Saints Go Marching In” as they rounded the corner onto St. Charles Avenue shortly after 7 a.m. It was the 52nd time that Fountain’s group has paraded for Mardi Gras. This year, the group wore bright yellow suits and matching pork pie hats for its theme, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”
Costumes were the order of the day, ranging from the predictable to the bizarre.
Wearing a purple wig, New Orleans resident Juli Shipley carried a gallon of booze down Bourbon Street and filled her friends’ cups when they got low.
“We’re going to wander all day and people-watch,” Shipley said. “That’s the best part of Mardi Gras _ the costumes. They’re amazing.”
Partygoers were dressed as Wizard of Oz characters Dorothy and the Wicked Witch, bags of popcorn, pirates, super heroes, clowns, jesters, princesses and lots of homemade costumes with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.
Rain stayed away and temperatures were in the 70s. As the day wore on and drinking intensified, the combination encouraged raunchy acts in the French Quarter, where women bared flesh in pleadings for beads tossed to the street by revelers on balconies.
By midafternoon, some folks were tuckered out.
Alison Scott, 35, of New Orleans, was part of a group that had a small city of tents and canopies set up at Lee Circle. She and her family had been coming to the spot for about 40 years. “Believe me, I’m always glad to get here and then I’m always glad to go home,” she said.
Her 6-year-old daughter, Shannon, was asleep nearby under a blanket of beads.
“She just pooped out. This is the first time she’s stopped. She’s been so excited all day,” Scott said.
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