Preparations for Mardi Gras begin

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Making Mardi Gras
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Preparations for Mardi Gras begin
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, head of the Mardi Gras North Side Skull & Bone Gang, poses with his accoutrements for upcoming Mardi Gras day, in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. Their costumes are intended to represent the dead, and Barnes said they bring a serious message, reminding people of their mortality and the need to live a productive and good life. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Chief of the Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Tribe Tyrone Casby talks to his grandson Aiden, age 4, as he sews beads onto the costume he will be wearing for Mardi Gras at his home in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. The Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Tribe is an African American group that celebrates Mardi Gras by dancing and performing in a newly created hand-made costume each year. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, head of the Mardi Gras North Side Skull & Bone Gang, poses with his accoutrements for upcoming Mardi Gras day, in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. Their costumes are intended to represent the dead, and Barnes said they bring a serious message, reminding people of their mortality and the need to live a productive and good life. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, head of the Mardi Gras North Side Skull & Bone Gang, poses with his accoutrements for upcoming Mardi Gras day, in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. Their costumes are intended to represent the dead, and Barnes said they bring a serious message, reminding people of their mortality and the need to live a productive and good life. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Chief of the Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Tribe Tyrone Casby sews beads onto the costume he will be wearing for Mardi Gras at his home in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. The Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Tribe is an African American group that celebrates Mardi Gras by dancing and performing in a newly created hand-made costume each year. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Chief of the Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Tribe Tyrone Casby sews beads onto the costume he will be wearing for Mardi Gras at his home in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. The Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Tribe is an African American group that celebrates Mardi Gras by dancing and performing in a newly created hand-made costume each year. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
A costume worn by Chief of the Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Tribe Tyrone Casby in 2009 greets visitors to his home in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. This costume depicts the white buffalo, a sacred animal in Native American lore. The Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Tribe is an African American group that celebrates Mardi Gras by dancing and performing in a newly created hand-made costume each year. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Mardi Gras master float painter Raymond J. Bowie paints a float at Kern Studios in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. Bowie has been painting Mardi Gras floats for nearly forty years. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Mardi Gras master float painter Raymond J. Bowie paints a float at Kern Studios in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. Bowie has been painting Mardi Gras floats for nearly forty years. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Cari Rhoton, a lieutenant in an all-female Mardi Gras parade group known as the Krewe of Muses, creates one of the group's signature shoes from her garage in Kenner, La., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. Over 1000 members of the organization ride floats and pass out hand decorated shoes and other trinkets during Mardi Gras. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
An all-female Mardi Gras parade group known as the Krewe of Muses creates hand decorated shoes from a garage in Kenner, La., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. The Krewe of Muses has over 1000 members who ride parade floats. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, head of the Mardi Gras North Side Skull & Bone Gang, poses with his accoutrements for Mardi Gras day, in a cemetery in New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. Their costumes are intended to represent the dead, and Barnes said they bring a serious message, reminding people of their mortality and the need to live a productive and good life. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Chanel Lafargue decorates coconuts, gorgeous pieces often referred to as "Golden Nuggets," inside her studio in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. Lafargue has decorated tens of thousands of coconuts for her husband and his friends over the years. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Chanel Lafargue decorates coconuts, gorgeous pieces often referred to as "Golden Nuggets," inside her studio in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. Lafargue has decorated tens of thousands of coconuts for her husband and his friends over the years. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, head of the Mardi Gras North Side Skull & Bone Gang, poses with his accoutrements for Mardi Gras day in a cemetery in New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. Their costumes are intended to represent the dead, and Barnes said they bring a serious message, reminding people of their mortality and the need to live a productive and good life. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Chanel Lafargue decorates coconuts, gorgeous pieces often referred to as "Golden Nuggets," inside her studio in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. Lafargue has decorated tens of thousands of coconuts for her husband and his friends over the years. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Members of the Mowhawk Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe, and the only tribe on the city's west bank of the Mississippi River, practice inside Sheila's Fantasy Lounge in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Cari Rhoton, a lieutenant in an all-female Mardi Gras parade group known as the Krewe of Muses, creates the group's signature shoes from her garage in Kenner, La., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. Over 1000 members of the organization ride floats and pass out hand decorated shoes and other trinkets during Mardi Gras. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Tyrone Casby, Big Chief of the Mowhawk Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe, and the only tribe on the city's west bank of the Mississippi River, poses after practice at Sheila's Fantasy Lounge in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. Casby is the big chief of the Mohawk Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe in New Orleans. As a young boy, he remembers sneaking off to watch and listen to his brother practice the drums with his tribe. In 1967 he made his first suit and in 1980 he became the chief of the Mohawk Hunters, the only tribe on the Mississippi River cityâs west bank. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Members of the Mowhawk Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe, and the only tribe on the city's west bank of the Mississippi River, practice inside Sheila's Fantasy Lounge in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Members of the Mowhawk Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe, and the only tribe on the city's west bank of the Mississippi River, practice inside Sheila's Fantasy Lounge in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Ryan Ballard, left, founder of the Krewe of Chewbacchus Mardi Gras parade, works on a float with Keith Greene, King of Chewbacchus 2016, at their headquarters at the Castillo Blanco Art Studios in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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As New Orleans' Mardi Gras is underway, revelers put the finishing touches on brilliant costumes, accessories and large extravagant parade floats.

The long-held tradition is viewed as a raucous party in many parts of the country but for natives, it's a special time for self-expression and creativity.

Take a look at the photos above to see the meticulous prep that goes into the festival.


Related: See how to make the must-have Mardi Gras cocktail:
The Hurricane Is a Must-Make Cocktail for Your Mardi Gras Party
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