The costumes were plentiful. Many revelers were clad in the traditional colors of Mardi Gras — purple, green and gold. There were cows, bees, pirates and jesters. One reveler rode through the French Quarter on a bike dressed in a U.S. Postal Service jersey adorned with syringes, referencing the doping scandal for the famed cyclist.
Among the revelers wearing plastic breasts and buttocks over their clothes was Mardi Gras first-timer Phil Weipert, of South Lyon, Mich.
"This is one big awesome party," said Weipert, who also had on a purple boa and matching hat with a gold crown. "I'm going to have to give up parades for Lent. I was going to give up booze but I'm definitely going to have to give up parades. I've been to like nine of them and I'm hooked."
Parading started at dawn, led by 82-year-old clarinetist Pete Fountain and his Half Fast Walking Club. Fountain and his group were clad in garish red suits and feathered hats.
"This is my life," he said, referring to his 63rd parade with the group he founded. "We're going to make it before it rains."
Mardi Gras also took on a Super Bowl flavor.
Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl stars Jacoby Jones and Ed Reed, both Louisiana natives, were aboard a Zulu float. Reed was wearing a traditional Zulu grass skirt.
Nearby, three men identifying themselves as the "Superdome lighting crew" dressed in jump suits with home-made patches reading "Entergy" and name tags saying Larry, Shemp and Curly, a nod to the comedy troupe The Three Stooges.
Peter Menge, 41, of New Orleans, said the power company was an easy target for lampooning after the 34-minute blackout during the Super Bowl. "The power just goes out here a lot," he said.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu led the Zulu parade on horseback in a black shirt and jeans, flanked by mounted police officers.
At Gallier Hall, the old City Hall, Landrieu went to the bleachers to toast the Zulu and Rex monarchs, dancing to the music with others in the stands, including Archbishop Gregory Aymond, clad in his traditional clerical uniform adorned with strands of Mardi Gras beads.
For some, Mardi Gras had an even more special significance.
Kristina Goodner, 30, and Ben Goodner, 45, of Los Angeles watched the parades outside a St. Charles Avenue bed-and-breakfast. The Goodners got married at Disneyland, where Ben Goodner works, but the wedding had a New Orleans theme, including a zydeco band, a second line dance and a king cake. They decided to turn a previously planned family vacation to New Orleans into their honeymoon.
"It's been fantastic," she said. "Aside from the drunk college kids, everyone here is so welcoming."
Associated Press writer Janet McConnaughey contributed to this report.