Mardi Gras rolling despite New Orleans rain threat

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Peter Menge, 41, of New Orleans, said the power company was an easy target for lampooning after the 34-minute blackout during the Super Bowl. “The power just goes out here a lot,” he said.

Brian Gibson, 45, lounged in a folding chair while his wife and two daughters ran to the float carrying the NFL players 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, flanked by mounted police officers.

Kristina Goodner, 30, and Ben Goodner, 45, of Los Angeles watched the parades outside a St. Charles Avenue bed-and-breakfast. Kristina Goodner wore a “Just Married” sign on her head.

The Goodners got married at Disneyland, where Ben Goodner works. The wedding had a New Orleans theme, including a zydeco band, a second line dance and a king cake. They decided to turn a previously planned family vacation to New Orleans into their honeymoon.

“It’s been fantastic,” she said. “Aside from the drunk college kids, everyone here is so welcoming.”

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.

Fountain’s Half-Fast Walking Club stepped off from a staging point in the Garden District just after dawn. The famed clarinetist and his club mates were clad in garish red suits and feathered hats.

Fountain no longer walks the route, which will take him to the French Quarter, but rides a truck-towed trolley. As he boarded, parade-goers snapped photos with camera phones.

Fountain wasn’t worried about the forecast.

“This is my life,” he said, referring to his 63rd parade with the group he founded. “We’re going to make it before it rains.”

Fountain, 82, left the group when it reached the French Quarter to get something to eat and was doing fine, said his son-in-law, Benny Harrell.

Bob Johnson sipped on a screwdriver as he prepared to march with Fountain. “This is a half-healthy drink,” he joked.

Johnson has done parades on floats and has been with Fountain’s street marchers for six years. “It’s a whole different perspective than riding a float. You can get right up to people,” he said.

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