- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Skies were gray, temperatures were chilly, and there was some rain.

But it was still Mardi Gras, with thousands flocking to parades, capping off the Carnival season along Mississippi’s coast.

Mardi Gras lovers bundled up and set up tents for shelter, not allowing cold weather and drizzle to stop the downtown Biloxi parade.

“Everyone knew the rain was coming,” said Bill Holmes, parade captain for the Gulf Coast Carnival Association, the region’s oldest parading society. “They’ve covered up their floats. They’ve covered up their speaker systems, and they’re all here. We’re probably only missing about four or five floats out of 120.”

What kept the spirits of members from being dampened by the weather?

“If you’ve ever ridden through the parade and seen the people’s faces, you would understand what’s so wonderful about it,” said Nancy Rogers, an organizer.

Danielle Kuper of Alaska makes her way south every year for Mardi Gras, and chose to celebrate Fat Tuesday on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“This is my first Mardi Gras in the rain,” she said of her fifth year celebrating Carnival season. “But it’s still so fun.”

Kuper said she and seven others made the trek from Alaska to visit New Orleans and South Mississippi, and the weather couldn’t stop them.

Not everyone got to partake in the fun, though. The 7,000 students in the Pascagoula school district had to attend class Tuesday to make up time lost during a February ice storm.

Students wore their favorite Mardi Gras beads to class at Jackson Elementary School to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. Teacher Latoya Fortenberry was pleased all of her second graders showed up for class.

“Absolutely, and it is a lot warmer in my classroom than it is outside, so I think they are having fun,” Fortenberry said.

Mardi Gras wasn’t totally forgotten about at Jackson Elementary. The fourth graders hosted an afternoon parade after they finished their school work.