Mardi Gras revelers brave threat of rain

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Bryan Clark, 42, said it would take more than the threat of rain to break his family’s tradition of camping near the place where the Zulu parade turns onto St. Charles Avenue. “We stay here rain sleet or snow,” he said. The New Orleans native said his parents hooked him on the Mardi Gras ritual and now he does it with his wife and children. “There is no other place in America you can do this,” he said.

Parading was planned across south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. In Louisiana’s Cajun parishes, the tradition of the Courir du Mardi Gras was set to start after dawn, as groups of maskers on horseback would ride from community to community making merry.

Rain or shine, many revelers planned to hit the streets early Tuesday morning. It was their last chance for the Carnival season, which ends with the stroke of midnight Tuesday night. After that, the solemn season of Lent replaces the revelry until Easter.

“We’re going to get here extremely early,” said Carly Gerhard, who drove with a friend from Philadelphia to New Orleans over the weekend _ through storms that spawned tornadoes along the way _ for her first Mardi Gras experience.

Gerhard said her most memorable experience so far has been the French Quarter.

“My favorite part was getting to Bourbon Street and seeing all the different people,” she said Monday. “The diversity is pretty cool. We’re looking forward to the parades. We’re looking forward to it all.”

Frank Warford, of Riverdale, Ga., was holding an umbrella Monday as he walked Bourbon Street. He said he was ready to party through the rain.

“This is a party city. Everybody’s partying and having fun, catching beads like crazy,” said Warford, his neck draped in beads. “If it rains, put a hat on. It’s as simple as that.”

Katiey Diamond, of Sayreville, N.J., said rain won’t ruin her Mardi Gras.

“I’ll party if it’s freaking thundering,” she exclaimed. “We’ve got indoors. We’re good.”

Scattered showers didn’t keep revelers away Monday either as thousands flocked to the French Quarter and along the Mississippi River for Lundi Gras festivities.

As local brass bands played on stages set up along the river, Jim and Sheron Rogers, of Bay St. Louis, Miss., beers in hand, said they hadn’t missed a Mardi Gras since 1990, and that come rain or shine they were taking in this one.

“We just love it,” Sheron Rogers said. “The people, the music. It’s just a beautiful, fun city.”

Many said they weren’t going to let the rain or weekend shooting on Bourbon Street wreck the party.

“You can’t let the threat keep you from having a good time,” Jim Rogers said.

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