Mardi Gras revelers brave threat of rain
Members of the Mardi Gras dance group "The Sirens" perform during the Krewe of Orpheus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Wet streets, puddles and soggy ground greeted revelers who braved rainy forecasts threatening to wash out Mardi Gras, New Orleans' biggest free show.
Freddie Zeigler, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Slidell, La., said there's an 80 percent chance of rain Tuesday, with showers likely moving into the metro area during the morning. Fog blanketed the riverfront and business district in the early morning.
Still, lulls are predicted throughout the day and no parades had been canceled.
"It's going to be dicey though for parades, but it all depends on how fast that warm front moves to the north," Zeigler said.
Riders in the Zulu parade — the first of the day's float processions — boarded floats staged before dawn at the city's huge convention enter. They loaded aboard the trinkets, beads, doubloons and other throws that hundreds of thousands would be clamoring for in a matter of hours.
Zulu was the first float parade of the day, starting at 8 a.m., and would be followed by the parade of Rex, King of carnival, two hours later. Behind them would come hundreds of trucks decorated by families and social groups.
Street marching hit the streets ahead of Zulu and Rex, with clarinetist Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Marching Club leading the way shortly after dawn. Others with colorful names such as the Jefferson City Buzzards would follow, tossing beads to the crowds along stately St. Charles Avenue and winding their way into the city's business district.
Fountain and his clubmates were clad in garish red suits and feathered hats as they got ready to march in the Garden District.
Fountain no longer walks the route, which will take him to the French Quarter, but rides a wheeled trolley. As he boarded under the early light peeking through overcast skies, parade-goers snapped photos with camera phones.
Fountain wasn't worried about the rain forecast.
Revelers yell for beads and trinkets during the Krewe of Orpheus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
"This is my life," he said, referring to his 63rd parade with the group. "We're going to make it before it rains."
Bob Johnson sipped on a screwdriver as he prepared to march with Fountain. "This is a half-healthy drink," he joked.
Johnson has done parades on floats and has been with Fountain's street marchers for six years. "It's a whole different perspective than riding a float. You can get right up to people," he said.