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Mardi Gras revelry ends, Lenten season begins



NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The merriment of Mardi Gras has ended and the solemn season of Lent has begun Wednesday.

New Orleans police swept through Bourbon Street at midnight in the city's annual ritual of letting Carnival revelers know the party is over - until next year.

Jim Baker, of New Orleans, said he usually dresses in costume for the Mardi Gras holiday, but the weather deterred him this year.

Baker said he chose to celebrate a little differently - sipping cocktails under the cover of a friend's French Quarter patio balcony while watching other costumed revelers brave the cold and rain.

Temperatures for most of the day in the New Orleans area were in the lower 40s and by early evening were at about 38 degrees. The wind chill made it feel even colder.

But there's one tradition Baker said he won't be straying from - rain or shine - and that's attending Mass and receiving ashes the day after Mardi Gras on Ash Wednesday.

"That's when I begin thinking about Easter," said Baker, who is Catholic. "It's about celebration and sacrifice before Easter, to show that you're appreciative of being here."

Baker said he planned to attend Mass at St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. He also planned to make a sacrifice for Lent, which is the six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter, the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

"I'm giving up desserts," he said. "I love desserts, but I'm diabetic. So it's a sacrifice, but it will be good for me."

Giving up the excessive behavior was far from most people's minds as folks endured the wet and cold to celebrate Fat Tuesday.

"We'll drink, drink, drink until it gets drier," said Dean Cook of New Orleans as he walked Bourbon Street dressed as a pirate with vampire fangs.

"Mermaids love the water," he said of his wife, Terrina Cook, who was dressed in a shiny blue mermaid costume, complete with a fin.

Ronnie Davis, a professor of economics at the University of New Orleans, decided to break his button-down image for at least one day. Clad in tutus, he and his wife, Arthurine, stood along the avenue watching the Krewe of Zulu's floats roll by.

"All year I have to dress professionally. This is the one time I get to act like a fool," Davis said.

But the Mardi Gras revelry wasn't free of violence.

Just before midnight, two people were found shot to death in a parking lot near the Port of New Orleans, police said. In a statement, police said both victims - ages 25 and 28 - were shot multiple times and pronounced dead at the scene.

In an earlier shooting nearby that police said was unrelated, a 25-year-old man was shot and wounded while attending a concert at a banquet hall around 10 p.m. Police said he was brought to the hospital and listed in stable condition.

As a cold rain fell Tuesday afternoon, crowds along the stately, oak-lined St. Charles Avenue thinned and French Quarter bars filled with patrons looking for a dry spot to escape while letting the good times roll.

"It's awful cold," said Rick Emerson, a Tampa, Fla., native who was watching costumed revelers pass by from an open doorway of a Bourbon Street daiquiri shop.

Instead of alcohol, Emerson was sipping hot coffee to help stay warm.

Instead of costumes, Emerson and his wife, Cheri, were dressed in layers of clothes, hats and scarves. "We're bundled up. We're not used to this sort of thing."

Rick Emerson said it was 80 degrees in Tampa, Fla., when he left last week, but he was determined to make the most of Mardi Gras.

"We're freezing, but we wanted to see some costumes, so we took a chance and came down," he said.

The Emersons were among those making the most of the big celebration before the Lenten season begins for the faithful.

New Orleans native Leila Haydel said she was determined to make it a happy Mardi Gras no matter what.

"I have about seven layers of clothes under my tutu," she said, twirling on Bourbon Street in a purple, green and gold tutu and hoisting an umbrella. "It's once a year. You have to come and enjoy. You have to."

Join the discussion

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kdlebeouf March 05 2014 at 5:26 PM

Mardi Gras is celebrated across in coastal areas where the French originally settled and accordingly, is the only prominently Catholic region of the South. The French had settlements in Mobile, New Orleans, Lafayette and even into Galveston, TX. Mardi Gras is celebrated in ALL of those cities. In addition, here in Louisiana pretty much every other little town (we're talking less than 10K people) will have a parade and ball. It's wide spread, NOT JUST IN NEW ORLEANS

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Randy Stalsby March 05 2014 at 3:11 PM

Go head and have a big ole time down home folks, that is what life is about

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Larry the Legend March 05 2014 at 3:31 PM

New Orlean at Mardi Gras! This is "the" place to be at least once in your life!! Fun,Food,Friendly .
Did I say Fun?
I meant TOO MUCH FUN !!!!!!
Absolutely a wonderful experience!

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1 reply
sadiemae1214 Larry the Legend March 05 2014 at 4:54 PM

Did that once. Mid 70's before the muggings, stabbings, the sexual assaults. The place was clean and friendly then and you could take your kids to see the parades because it was still safe to walk the streets. I do miss those Muffalotta sandwiches!

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Tereza March 05 2014 at 3:33 PM

I BORNE IM BRAZIL LEGAL ,IMIGRANTE ,GREN CARD,
BECAME AMERICA CITEZEN,FROM 1976 BICENTENIAL,
I MISSING CARNIVAL, VERY HAPPY TIME

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1 reply
kdlebeouf Tereza March 05 2014 at 6:02 PM

I would love to visit Rio for Carnival! It's not a Rio, Brazil vs. New Orleans thing. If you feel about Mardi Gras/Carnival like we do here in New Orleans, all you want is a day that everyone rich to poor can stop and enjoy each other with good company, food and drink. The more the merrier. I can assure you most of this country (USA) is way to uptight to relax and perhaps pee behind a bush.

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DONNA MARIE March 05 2014 at 4:00 PM

I LOVE MARDI GRAS. I LIVED IN N.O. FOR 30 YRS BUT I NEVER BROUGHT MY CHILDREN INTO THE QUARTER DURING MARDI GRAS. I DON'T THINK ANYONE UNDER 16 YR OLD BELONGS IN THE QUARTER DURING MARDI GRAS. JUST MY PERSONAL OPINION.

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mdog00 March 05 2014 at 9:00 PM

oh, this is mardigras??? I thought it was lunch break on Capitol Hill with all of the 535 elected officials milling around...looks like the same bunch of clowns

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tbplayer44 March 05 2014 at 4:22 PM

Of course they braved it! Colder weather makes the boobs more fun to look at!

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1 reply
flip33732 tbplayer44 March 05 2014 at 4:39 PM

Being politically correct you should say boobies or tatas. The term boobs implies our Congress was in town.

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buffalokaplinski March 05 2014 at 6:34 PM

MY NEIGHBORS AUNT DOES'NT EXIST ! the COMMENT i have to make is PARTY HARD NOW - because if YOU'RE not SAVED from YOUR SINS - YOUR ETERNITY is AWFULL in HADES [ HELL ] ! talked to BIKERS once & they THINK HELL is gonna be a BIG PARTY - READ LUKE CHAPTER 16 : 19 - A REAL BIG PARTY ! WORDS of JESUS - THE CHRIST & SAVIOUR !

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1 reply
blackcoffeeparty buffalokaplinski March 05 2014 at 9:24 PM

Can understand your wanting to shout at the unbelievers but that will not work. And If I may, just tell them to read the Bible for themselves. Of course many are going to sling slurs at your suggestion. But some will read the book and find answers for themselves and not have to support the supposed knowledge of others, You may not want to mention chapter and verse. That can lead unbelievers to try a verse fencing match that edifies no one.

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Hi BulldogandRex March 05 2014 at 5:21 PM

Mardi Gras is fun, but after seeing the photos of Carnival, this seems like a small town parade...and its a little depressing.

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1 reply
blackcoffeeparty Hi BulldogandRex March 05 2014 at 9:27 PM

well said

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dwdays March 05 2014 at 9:15 PM

Cold & rainy Mardi Gras? Oh No...I hope everyone has their high beams ready.

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