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New Orleans Carnival Season: Fat Tuesday Celebrations with Celebrities and Pretend Monarchs

New Orleans' Carnival season is ending with parades and street parties. The celebrations are a cherished tradition and a vital economic boost.

New Orleans is gearing up for the grand finale of its Carnival season, with the last extravagant Mardi Gras parades set to take place in historic neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the narrow streets of the old French Quarter are preparing to host a lively and continuous street party, with revelers spilling out of bars and restaurants.

Two of the city's most beloved parades, the processions of Rex, King of Carnival and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, are scheduled to roll through major thoroughfares on Tuesday morning. The Krewe of Orpheus, co-founded by home-grown musician and actor Harry Connick Jr., held a parade on Monday night, featuring elaborate floats, marching bands, and celebrity participants including Connick, actor Neil Patrick Harris, and his husband, David Burtka.

New Orleans boasts the largest and most well-known Carnival celebration in the nation, filled with cherished traditions that are beloved by locals. However, it also serves as a vital economic boost to the city's tourism industry, a fact that is always evident in the bustling French Quarter.

Visitors from all over, such as Renitta Haynes of Chattanooga, Tennessee, have been drawn to the vibrant festivities. Haynes remarked on the friendly and approachable nature of the locals, as she and her friend Tiffany Collins enjoyed the celebrations while sporting giant purple, green, and gold bead necklaces.

While New Orleans is at the center of the Mardi Gras celebrations, similar festivities are held in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. Mobile, Alabama, which lays claim to the nation's oldest Mardi Gras celebration, had six parades scheduled for Tuesday. Additionally, other lavish Carnival celebrations in Brazil and Europe are renowned worldwide.

The activities on Monday in New Orleans included an afternoon "Lundi Gras," or Fat Monday celebration on the Mississippi Riverfront, featuring live music. A significant part of the event was the ceremonial meeting of the King of Carnival, chosen by the Rex Organization, and the king of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. This tradition, which began in 1999, was seen as a symbol of slowly eroding social and racial barriers.

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