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Lady Gaga, eat your heart out! Mardi Gras revelers in New Orleans turn heads with their wacky and wonderful costumes {VIDEO+PICS}

Headturning display: Revelers bundled up in winter coats with the occasional glitzy costume filled the streets of New Orleans on Tuesday for the annual Mardi Gras bash, opening a day of partying, parades and good-natured jostling for beads and trinkets tossed from passing floats

  • The 2015 parades kicked off on January 31 and will come to a close on Fat Tuesday - historically the day when cooking fats would be used up before the austerities of Lent
  • More than 50 floats have participated in this year's colorful celebration, drawing in thousands of spectators from across the globe

Revelers bundled up in winter coats with the occasional glitzy costume filled the streets of New Orleans on Tuesday for the annual Mardi Gras bash, opening a day of partying, parades and good-natured jostling for beads and trinkets tossed from passing floats.

Retired clarinetist Pete Fountain rode a mini float decked out as a streetcar as his Half-Fast Walking Club kicked off a day of parades on Fat Tuesday - historically the day when cooking fats would be used up before the austerities of Lent.

The Reverend Byron Miller started Fountain's group on its way with a prayer, invoking 'the God of laughter and love' as marchers set out on a miles-long trek after early morning rain cleared out, leaving many buttoning up amid temperatures in the 30s and 40s early in the day.

Headturning display: Revelers bundled up in winter coats with the occasional glitzy costume filled the streets of New Orleans on Tuesday for the annual Mardi Gras bash, opening a day of partying, parades and good-natured jostling for beads and trinkets tossed from passing floats

Headturning display: Revelers bundled up in winter coats with the occasional glitzy costume filled the streets of New Orleans on Tuesday for the annual Mardi Gras bash, opening a day of partying, parades and good-natured jostling for beads and trinkets tossed from passing floats

Follow the leader: Members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club parade down St. Charles Avenue on Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday - historically the day when cooking fats would be used up before the austerities of Lent

Follow the leader: Members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club parade down St. Charles Avenue on Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday - historically the day when cooking fats would be used up before the austerities of Lent

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Tutti-frutti: A Member of the Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club dances through the streets 

Tutti-frutti: A Member of the Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club dances through the streets 

Celebrities and celebrity watchers are also around each Mardi Gras and this year was no exception.

The cast of the CBS crime drama 'NCIS: New Orleans' got an early taste of the season on Monday, riding in the parade of Orpheus and tossing beads to revelers lining city streets before heading to an overnight ball. 

Their Mardi Gras episode airs Tuesday night at 8pm CST.

Other celebrities joining in this year's revelry were comedian Ron White and country music star Dierks Bentley. 

Al Johnson, singer of the catchy Mardi Gras tune Carnival Time, served as grand marshal of the Red Beans and Rice foot parade, another Monday prelude to the day.

Johnson told The Associated Press his catchy song - now synonymous with the annual Carnival seasons - got its inspiration from the Lower 9th Ward, a New Orleans district devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

Standing out from the crowd: Celebrities and celebrity watchers are also around each Mardi Gras and this year was no exception

Standing out from the crowd: Celebrities and celebrity watchers are also around each Mardi Gras and this year was no exception

Animal magic: In addition to being a tradition for residents, Carnival season is a major tourist draw in New Orleans, especially in the final two weekends when the best-known parades roll, often with local and national celebrities aboard the floats

Animal magic: In addition to being a tradition for residents, Carnival season is a major tourist draw in New Orleans, especially in the final two weekends when the best-known parades roll, often with local and national celebrities aboard the floats

Ready for our close-ups: Parade-goers spend hours getting ready, with make-up to match their colorful costumes
Ready for our close-ups: Parade-goers spend hours getting ready, with make-up to match their colorful costumes

Ready for our close-ups: Parade-goers spend hours getting ready, with make-up to match their colorful costumes

Theatrical edge: Some revelers opted for scary disguises while other went for a more traditional carnival look
Theatrical edge: Some revelers opted for scary disguises while other went for a more traditional carnival look

Theatrical edge: Some revelers opted for scary disguises while other went for a more traditional carnival look

Tourist attraction: Andre Neron of Montreal, Canada, waits for the Krewe of Zulu parade in New Orleans

Tourist attraction: Andre Neron of Montreal, Canada, waits for the Krewe of Zulu parade in New Orleans

'It all started down there,' he said of the Louisiana neighborhood where levees broke and surging stormwaters splintered wooden homes. But after Katrina, he said, 'Life is going on.'

Some got a jump on the day's celebrations by donning tuxedoes and evening gowns for elegant balls lasting into the early hours Tuesday. 

Ordinary folks took to dressing up. 

Friends Alexandra Sergutin and Ashley Dornier of New Orleans said donning elegant gowns for the Carnival balls is one of their favorite Mardi Gras activities.

'It feels good to be a part of that tradition. It really does. It touches your heart,' said Sergutin, draped in colorful beads.'You're a part of something amazing and big.'

Money maker: Mardi Gras is a major factor in New Orleans' $6 billion tourism economy, along with the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Essence Festival and other major cultural and sporting events

Money maker: Mardi Gras is a major factor in New Orleans' $6 billion tourism economy, along with the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Essence Festival and other major cultural and sporting events

Nuns on the run: Revelers dressed as the 'Sisters Of No Mercy' walk throughout the French Quarter on Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Nuns on the run: Revelers dressed as the 'Sisters Of No Mercy' walk throughout the French Quarter on Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Non-stop partying: Some got a jump on the day's celebrations by donning tuxedos and evening gowns for elegant balls lasting into the early hours Tuesday

Non-stop partying: Some got a jump on the day's celebrations by donning tuxedos and evening gowns for elegant balls lasting into the early hours Tuesday

Melting pot: Celebrations also were scheduled throughout south Louisiana and in coastal Mississippi and Alabama, sharing the traditions brought by French Catholic colonists in the 18th century

Melting pot: Celebrations also were scheduled throughout south Louisiana and in coastal Mississippi and Alabama, sharing the traditions brought by French Catholic colonists in the 18th century

Celebrations also were scheduled throughout south Louisiana and in coastal Mississippi and Alabama, sharing the traditions brought by French Catholic colonists in the 18th century. 

In Louisiana's swampy bayou parishes, costumed riders on horseback go from farm to farm, collecting ingredients for a huge community gumbo.

Tuesday's main parades were Zulu and Rex, 'King of Carnival', who wears a golden crown and carries a golden scepter. 

Rex features some of the season's most wildly fantastic floats. After Rex follow two 'truck parades' - hundreds of flatbed trailers topped by costumed riders, whether families, clubs or other social groups.

The parades wind down late Tuesday afternoon and outdoor celebrations cease at midnight, when the solemn Catholic season of Lent begins. 

New Orleans police ride horseback down the French Quarter's main tourist thoroughfare, Bourbon Street, to clear the last tipsy revelers as the party ends for another year. 

Change of pace: In Louisiana's swampy bayou parishes, costumed riders on horseback go from farm to farm, collecting ingredients for a huge community gumbo

Change of pace: In Louisiana's swampy bayou parishes, costumed riders on horseback go from farm to farm, collecting ingredients for a huge community gumbo

Political references: Revelers masquerade as 'The Original Isis', a reference to the militant group, during the Society of Saint Anne parade on Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Political references: Revelers masquerade as 'The Original Isis', a reference to the militant group, during the Society of Saint Anne parade on Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Bird's-eye view: Revelers in costume watch from a balcony during the Society of Saine Anne parade

Bird's-eye view: Revelers in costume watch from a balcony during the Society of Saine Anne parade

Final cheer: The parades wind down late Tuesday afternoon and outdoor celebrations cease at midnight, when the solemn Catholic season of Lent begins

Final cheer: The parades wind down late Tuesday afternoon and outdoor celebrations cease at midnight, when the solemn Catholic season of Lent begins

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Comment by Sandra Fuller on February 18, 2015 at 8:42pm

Why are there no people commenting on the articles? Or is it that I can't see any?I would like to see what others think about your articles and beautiful photos of carnival and Mardi Gras.

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