The Latest on Mardi Gras: Cold is relative as parades roll

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Posted: Feb 09, 2016 11:42 AM
The Latest on Mardi Gras: Cold is relative as parades roll

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on Mardi Gras in New Orleans (all times local):

10:40 a.m.

Mardi Gras is cold, but cold can depend on perspective.

Amanda Brooks of suburban Gretna and cousin Janet Strode of Chicago were bundled up, waiting for Zulu's parade to arrive downtown.

Winds gusting up to 30 mph made mid-40s temperatures feel like the upper 30s.

Baby Maria slept in Brooks' arms, nestled in a hat, snowsuit and an adult's quilted jacket with the hood as a windbreaker for her face.

Across the street, Dougie Dommer (DOH-mer) of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, found it relatively balmy: Oshkosh is 20 degrees with 2 feet of snow.

He's dressed as Santa, "on vacation from the North Pole." Dommer said it's his eighth Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and he always masks as Saint Nick.

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10:30 a.m.

Thousands of people lined up along the main streets of New Orleans to see the culmination of Mardi Gras.

People were bundled up against the cold winds along St. Charles Ave. and Canal St. To see the last day of parades Tuesday before Lent begins Wednesday.

Families set up ladders for their children to sit on and thus get a better chance to catch the beads and trinkets that become prized possessions thrown out by float riders on Fat Tuesday.

Jonas Edwards, a tourist from North Carolina, was wearing a long rope of large shiny beads in the distinctive purple, green and gold colors that are synonymous with the holiday.

He was hoping to catch one of the hand-decorated coconuts given out during the Zulu parade Tuesday morning.

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10:30 a.m.

Willie Brumfield Jr., a carpenter at Blaine Kern Studios, was on the way to see the floats he helped build roll in the Zulu parade.

The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club has rented all of its floats in the past but celebrated a century of incorporation by buying 10 new floats for Tuesday's parade. Its signature characters, such as the King, the Big Shot, Mr. Big Stuff, the Witch Doctor, the Governor and the Mayor, gleam with fresh shellac.

Brumfield said that's "pretty cool," and he'll now get to see the artwork.

He lives on New Orleans' west bank and took his bicycle on the ferry. He'd stopped and put down his beer to adjust his tiny radio, saying "gotta get my music."

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7:45 a.m.

Fat Tuesday is getting off to an early morning start.

Before sunrise Tuesday about one hundred people turned out at the Backstreet Cultural Museum to see the North Side Skull & Bone Gang come out.

The gang is a longtime Mardi Gras tradition. They wear costumes resembling skeletons with paper mache masks covering their heads and go through the neighborhood waking people up on Fat Tuesday.

Dabne Whitemore came to the door in her white bathrobe after hearing the gang and their drums coming from down the street.

She said she's been living in the neighborhood for about 15 years and called the tradition "wonderful."

Fat Tuesday marks the end of the Mardi Gras season before the beginning of Lent, a period of penance and spiritual renewal.

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4:05 a.m.

People across New Orleans Tuesday are marking the culmination of the Mardi Gras season with elaborate floats, eccentric costumes and marching bands.

Mardi Gras is the city's biggest tourist attraction, and thousands of people have converged on the city in recent weeks to see the elaborate parades, floats, marching bands and dance groups that wind through the city's streets.

The day kicks off with the Krewe of Zulu parade put on by the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, a historically black organization in New Orleans. Their parade dates back to roughly 1910. Then the Rex Organization, which dates back to 1872, will take to the streets.

After Rex comes two truck parades, also along St. Charles Ave. and that marks the end of the major parades in the city until next year.