NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Frigid temperatures that dipped below freezing overnight didn't stop costumed revelers from ushering in the Carnival season aboard a New Orleans streetcar.
The Phunny Phorty Phellows club, which first took to the streets in 1878, was one of two groups that paraded Monday night, known as Twelfth Night. For many Christians, the 12th night after Christmas marks the end of the holiday season and the beginning of the overindulgence and debauchery associated with Carnival.
In New Orleans, Twelfth Night is when street parades begin and king cakes pop up in grocery stores and bakeries.
Aboard the streetcar, the boisterous and colorful Phunny Phorty Phellows bobbed to a brass band as the troupe tossed beads, candy and trinkets to revelers waiting street-side, bundled in heavy coats and scarves. A frigid wind accompanied temperatures that dipped to the low 20s — uncommon in south Louisiana, even in January.
"It doesn't matter. I wouldn't miss this for anything," said New Orleans resident Kelley Frank, a cocktail in hand as she adjusted her long shawl and took in the costumes — many in the traditional Carnival colors of purple, green and gold. "This is what we do, what we live for, rain or shine or in this case, freezing."
For more than 30 years, the Phunny Phorty Phellows streetcar ride is traditionally one of the first street appearances of the Carnival season. Though the group's beginnings date back to 1878, they had stopped parading in the late 1800s and weren't revived until 1981.
"People know that when they see us coming in the streetcar, Carnival has arrived," said Jim Hobbs, a longtime member of the club.