NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Scattered showers didn't keep revelers away Monday as thousands flocked to the French Quarter and along the Mississippi riverfront for Lundi Gras festivities.
Despite the sporadic rains, Fat Monday parades proceeded: the Krewe of Orpheus, the star-studded group led by entertainer Harry Connick Jr., and the Krewe of Proteus, the Carnival season's second-oldest krewe founded in 1882 and named for an early Greek sea god.
Despite the gray skies and ominous clouds, the riverfront was jamming with music as revelers awaited the arrival of the King of Zulu, who toasts the King of Rex. A festival has sprung from the event, with food and drink booths and music throughout the day. Among the acts that performed Monday were the Rebirth Brass Band, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and Cajun singer and fiddler Amanda Shaw.
As local brass bands played on stages set up along the river, revelers in masks and jester hats caught beads being tossed from French Quarter balconies.
"It's crazy, all these people with no inhibitions," said Robin Danford, of Arlington, Texas, as she walked Bourbon Street, where many already had drinks in hand and women baring their breasts were pelted with beads.
The National Weather Service has forecast rain for much of Fat Tuesday, when traditionally as many as 1 million people revel in the streets, but so far officials have not canceled parade plans.
Wars abroad and even a police strike at home have prevented Fat Tuesday parades from rolling several times, but only once — in 1933 — has foul weather led to the cancellation of the Rex parade, according to Mardi Gras historian Arthur Hardy. Rex's parading history dates back to 1872.
"It's not looking good, but we're still hoping," Hardy said of Tuesday's forecast. "Winds are much more damaging than rain. That's the ultimate concern."
Hardy said it would be a "mighty sad day" if stormy weather nixed the big Mardi Gras parades this year.
City officials have the ultimate authority to decide whether a parade will roll.
"But it's always done in cooperation with the (krewe's) captain," he added.
If parades on Tuesday are canceled, they would not be rescheduled. Lent begins on Wednesday. Mardi Gras is the festival that leads to the solemn season.