NOLA celebrates end of Mardi Gras

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dressed in sequined costumes, grooving to the rhythm of marching bands and clutching at strands of shiny beads, people in New Orleans celebrated the end of a Mardi Gras season tinged by tragedy after two bystanders were killed by floats in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday.

The party took place in neighborhoods across the city and got started before dawn. In the Treme neighborhood, the Northside Skull and Bone Gang in skeleton costumes went door to door to wake people up before sunrise. In Central City, where the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club parades, families seemed to have gotten up and in position just as early. And in the French Quarter, the streets were filled with costumed revelers.

“It’s any other day anywhere else in the world but here we celebrate life,” said Paul Craven, who was walking with his wife, son and friends on Royal Street in the Quarter. “Every day, every week there is some sort of festival going on. It’s either very extreme or very small but there’s the celebration of life but that’s what has kept New Orleans alive.”

Craven wore a sweeping purple sequined cape and a wreath of grape leaves on his head. He and his wife had dressed “Bacchusesque” — a nod to Bacchus, the Greek god of wine and the namesake of one of the parades leading up to Fat Tuesday.

Carnival season began Jan. 6 and ended Tuesday.

By Kerry Minor

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