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Mardi Gras comes to close

Families camped out from early morning to catch beads and stuffed animals thrown from float riders. Revelers took to the streets in elaborate or funny costumes evoking Marie Antoinette, President Donald Trump and glamorous vampires. And amused bystanders took in the chaotic scene from lawn chairs.

Carnival season started Jan. 6 and comes to a close Fat Tuesday with festivities throughout New Orleans. Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, a period of reflection and restraint after the days of parades, parties and revelry.

Throngs of people were on the median for the final day of Mardi Gras, cooking up crawfish and red beans and rice. Others had set up ladders for their kids to sit on and catch beads and throws from the passing Zulu parade, one of two main parades that take to the streets on Fat Tuesday.

Joseph Rhyans moved to Houston in 2002 but tries to come back every year. This time he'd brought two of his kids, one of whom was sitting on a ladder catching bobbles from the passing Zulu parade.

"It's a family thing down here. That is what Mardi Gras is all about. Teach the kids and they will come back every year," he said.

Families usually pack up and go home after the parades are over although celebrations in the French Quarter extend into the late evening before police do a ceremonial clearing of the streets at midnight.

Costumes are a huge part of the Mardi Gras celebrations in the French Quarter, and Tuesday's designs did not disappoint. The French Quarter's most famous street, Bourbon Street, and parallel Royal Street were crowded with costumed tourists and locals, many of them stopping each other for photographs. One group dressed as pink flamingos. Two men, both dressed as Trump, greeted each other in the crowd.

Other costumes included Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Pac Man and Mrs. Pac Man and an angel of death with black wings and halo.

Shannon Abraham from Reno, Nevada, said she spent dozens of hours designing and making her elaborate silver-sequined dress. She wore a big silver wig of curls piled on top of curls and a pair of silver fangs to complete her look as a "Glampire Extraordinaire."

"We love New Orleans. There's no place else in the world like it," she said. Speaking of the people dressed up in the French Quarter, she said: "The effort that they've poured into this celebration and their costumes is extraordinary. And I like to be part of that. I like to contribute."

Carnival season draws about 1 million visitors and pumps about $840 million into the city's economy, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.



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