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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Baton Rouge Mardi Gras makes its own mark

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BATON ROUGE - Mardi Gras in the capital city marches to the beat of a different drummer than its cousin in New Orleans.

"Whatever Rex is, we try to do the opposite," said Nelson Maddox, a 30-year veteran of Spanish Town's Mardi Gras celebrations. "The king and queen are pretty un-royal. Where in New Orleans, they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the king's party or the queen's party, the king's party in Baton Rouge was at a local bar."

Maddox has served as the parade's grand marshal, and said he has seen crowds of over 100,000 flock to his flamingo-covered krewe.

"When the weather's good, and the liquor's flowing, Spanish Town is the place to be on the Saturday before Mardi Gras," Maddox said.

Whereas many New Orleans krewes have the benefit of giant float-building barns, most Baton Rouge revelers make their own floats, often in their own backyards.

"We started, like I said, with a little hay trailer we used to borrow from a farmer across the river 30-something years ago," Maddox said.

Baton Rouge float makers usually dump somewhere between a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars into their vehicles.

"A friend of mine has one, he has a full electronic sound system in it," Maddox said. "Full generators, full bar, I'm talking about like one you find in a country club."

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