New Orleans is marking Fat Tuesday with traditional parades and parties in the French Quarter. Tourism officials are estimating a million people are attending the annual celebration.
Crowds have been grasping at beads and trinkets thrown from parade floats accompanied along the way by marching bands.
Kirsten Moore of Louisville, Kentucky, says she’s impressed by her first Mardi Gras experience.
“The only thing close I’ve seen to a big celebration like this has been one of the Derby parades, but this is a little more than that.”
Rene Surgi grew up in the New Orleans area and sees Mardi Gras as an economic indicator.
“I think it’s a good Mardi Gras. I’ve been to, you know, 37, 38 of them. And it’s as good as I can ever remember.”
The French Quarter street party ends at midnight with the start of Ash Wednesday and the fast of Lent before Easter. Private balls are expected to continue until sunrise.