- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Overcast skies and the threat of rain couldn’t dampen the revelry of Mardi Gras as parades took to the streets early Tuesday, showering merrymaking crowds with trinkets of all kinds.

The parades began around dawn, led by clarinetist Pete Fountain and his Half-Fast Marching Club. The Zulu krewe and the parade of Rex, King of Carnival, were to wind their way down stately St. Charles Avenue to the business district during the morning.

Parade-goers lined up despite the threat of inclement weather. Some families camped out overnight to stake out choice spots to view parades.

Freddie Zeigler, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Slidell, La., said there was an 80 percent chance of rain Tuesday. Fog blanketed the riverfront and business district in the early morning.

Still, no parades had been canceled, and the Zulu parade began on time at 8 a.m.

Zulu had a pro football flavor. The Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl stars Jacobi Jones and Ed Reed, both Louisiana natives, were aboard a float with Warren Sapp, a retired NFL player.

Brian Gibson, 45, lounged in a folding chair while his wife and two daughters ran to the float in hope of beads, stuffed animals or the prized coconuts that Zulu members give away.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu led the Zulu parade on horseback in a black shirt and jeans.

Many revelers in the French Quarter had drinks in hand before sunrise. Some donned costumes, tutus, beads and boas.

“We’ll be in the French Quarter all day,” said Bobbie Meir of Gretna, La., with feathers in her hair and her fingernails painted purple. “The sights today are jaw-dropping. It’s a ton of fun and the best party in the world. Nobody does Mardi Gras like we do.”

Costumes included spotted cows, bees, pirates and jesters. Many revelers were clad in costumes of purple, green and gold, the traditional colors of Mardi Gras.

Ms. Meir said her group of friends would be taking in the sights from a Bourbon Street balcony.

Throughout the day, street bands and costumed revelers will be parading through the city’s old quarter as big floats and marching bands parade on the major thoroughfares.

Following the Zulu and Rex parades would be hundreds of trucks decorated by families and social groups.

Mr. Fountain’s Half-Fast Marching Club stepped off from a staging point in the Garden District just after dawn. Others with colorful names such as the Jefferson City Buzzards would follow.

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