Countdown to Mardi Gras kicks off in The Big Easy
NEW ORLEANS - A brass band strolled through a riverside warehouse holding huge, colorful parade floats as New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other city officials kicked off the countdown to Mardi Gras.
A group of masked revelers called the Phorty Phunny Phellows scheduled their annual streetcar ride through town on Tuesday evening. It's a decades-old tradition marking the 12th night after Christmas and the official start of the season.
Carnival is celebrated along the Gulf Coast with parties, balls and parades culminating on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, a final day of celebration before Lent. It is a major tourist draw in New Orleans.
Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 17 this year.