Thousands of revelers thronged the colorful and exuberant parades in New Orleans, amid the countdown for the Mardi Gras 2013 carnival. Mardi Gras (French name for Fat Tuesday) this year will be observed Feb. 12, a day before the Ash Wednesday that marks the lent season.
The carnival is a season of revelry, parades, balls, eating king cake, spread roughly over a 12-day period starting on Three Kings Day and ending on Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras has its roots in pagan culture and spring fertility rites dating back thousands of years. However, the carnival was popularized in the U.S. and several other countries by the Roman Catholic religious leaders, who blended the pagan festivity with the Christian religious practices.
Millions throng the congested streets of Bourbon, the French Quarter in New Orleans and other centers of celebrations in Alabama and Louisiana during the carnival days. Several parades with huge floats are a major attraction in the carnival and people throw beads, masks and small toys towards the revelers during the parades. Parades are held each day of the carnival but the largest and best of the carnival are reserved for the last five days before the Mardi Gras.
Krewes (who hold the parades and balls) compete with each other in rolling the biggest and splendid floats and celebrations for the carnival. Revelers, dancers, merrymakers and musicians stroll in colorful and mythical costumes and masks tossing the colorful beads and other ‘throws’ in the parade.
Mardi Gras 2013 celebrations in New Orleans Saturday saw one of the biggest floats in its history. The massive 330-foot long super float built by the Krewe of Endymion held over 200 riders in eight sections.
The super spectacle claimed to be the largest in history had to be separated into two as it could not negotiate a turn during its parade, Saturday. The 1.2 million dollar float was rejoined after taking the turn and ended its journey at the Superdome where American Idol alum Kelly Clarkson performed at the first major concert of the Mardi Gras eve. It was the first major event at the Superdome since the Super Bowl power blackout.
Kelly Clarkson was the celebrity grand marshal of the Krewe of Endymion.
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