- 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 Tuesday, showering costumed merrymakers with trinkets of all kinds.

The parades began around dawn, led by clarinetist Pete Fountain and his Half-Fast Walking Club. Later, the Zulu krewe and the parade of Rex, King of Carnival, rolled down stately St. Charles Avenue to the business district.

Along the uptown parade route, families camped out overnight to stake out choice spots to view parades.

Though crowds seemed a little thinner than normal, perhaps due to the weather, revelers were out in costume and eating and drinking themselves silly in the traditional last bash before Lent.

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 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.”

On Bourbon Street, women wore bustiers, fishnet stockings, bikini bottoms and little else.

“We’re a flock of peacocks,” said Laura Komarek, a recent New Orleans transplant from Minneapolis who moved to the Big Easy for a teaching job. Komarek and a group of friends were walking Bourbon Street wearing leotards and large colorful feathers on their bottoms.

Sipping a hand-grenade, one of Bourbon Street’s signature cocktails, Komarek said this was her first Mardi Gras.

“This is a totally different experience than any other event I’ve ever been to in my life. I’m so happy, having a blast with my friends without a care in the world.”

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

One reveler was riding through the French Quarter on a bike dressed in a U.S. Postal Service jersey adorned with syringes, referencing the doping scandal for the famed cyclist.

Mardi Gras also took on a Super Bowl flavor.

Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl stars Jacoby Jones and Ed Reed, both Louisiana natives, were aboard a Zulu float with retired NFL player-turned-broadcaster Warren Sapp. Reed was wearing a traditional Zulu grass skirt.

Nearby, three men identifying themselves as the “Superdome lighting crew” dressed in jump suits with home-made patches reading “Entergy” and name tags saying Larry, Shemp and Curly, a nod to the comedy troupe The Three Stooges.

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