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Cold, gray day doesn’t stop Mardi Gras revelers
First Published Mar 04 2014 08:46 am • Last Updated Mar 04 2014 03:28 pm

New Orleans • A cold, gray day greeted revelers — but didn’t deter them — along parade routes Tuesday as the Carnival season in New Orleans headed to a crest with the unabashed celebration of Mardi Gras.

The first street marching groups, including clarinetist Pete Fountain’s Half-Fast Walking Club, were to begin their marches along oak-lined St. Charles Avenue and into the business district.

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The Zulu parade began on schedule, led by a New Orleans police vanguard on horseback that included Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Later, the floats of Rex — the king of Carnival — and hundreds of truck trailers decorated by family and social groups would wind down St. Charles Avenue.

Rain fell, and umbrellas and raincoats sprouted along the parade route. Sleet was falling on some merrymakers in areas north and west of the city.

But revelers gathered by the thousands in the French Quarter, where the bawdy side of Mardi Gras would surely be on full display.

Mark Nelson of St. Louis said he would be in the mix even in a downpour for his first Mardi Gras.

"That’s why God made washing machines," Nelson said as he sipped on a daiquiri.

Revelers lined up near a stand on Bourbon Street where artist Gail Vertucci was painting Carnival masks on faces.

"These people are crazy," she said. "They’ll get painted no matter what. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain, these people will line up all day long."


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Die-hards braved the weather in costume in the Quarter.

The weather wasn’t going to stop them.

"We’ll drink, drink, drink until it gets drier," said Dean Cook of New Orleans as he walked Bourbon Street dressed as a pirate with vampire fangs.

"Mermaids love the water," he said of his wife, Terrina Cook, who was dressed in a shiny blue mermaid costume, complete with a fin.

Along the Uptown parade route, Carol LeBlanc and husband Hov LeBlanc of New Orleans were strolling along St. Charles Avenue with friends Vicki and Duane O’Flynn from Arabi, La. The troupe was dressed as scarecrows, stuffed with grass and wearing plaid pants and tattered coveralls.

The cold weather wasn’t worrying LeBlanc. "I’ve got my long johns on," she said.

Nearby, April Womack and her family had tents set up. Grills were fired up, and pots of crawfish were boiling. They camped overnight, a family tradition for almost two decades. "It’s all about location," she said.

Her cousin, Yolanda Moton, said Mardi Gras is the opportunity for an annual family reunion, with relatives coming from as far away as Georgia. "This is the one time of the year that everyone in the family fits this in their schedule."

Sue and Kevin Preece from Edmonton, Canada, were at their first Mardi Gras.

"We wanted to come for Mardi Gras for about 10 years. It was on my bucket list, and he (Kevin) made it happen," said Sue Preece, a social worker.

Ronnie Davis, a professor of economics at the University of New Orleans, decided to break his button-down image for at least one day. Clad in tutus, he and his wife, Arthurine, strolled through a rain-thinned crowd.

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