Mardi Gras 2012: Stars touch down in the land of beads

Actress Patricia Clarkson arrives at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Clarkson will preside over the all-women Mardi Gras Krewe of Muses parade. The parade will march through the streets of the city Thursday night. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Bill Haber
Patricia Clarkson arrives in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. She will preside over the all-women Mardi Gras Krewe of Muses parade.

(CBS/AP) - Stars are heading to New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year, gearing up to ride in parades and participate in the annual festive celebration.

Actress Patricia Clarkson received a brass band reception when she arrived Wednesday in "The Big Easy," setting the stage for the all-women Krewe of Muses parade to roll Thursday night.

Pictures: Mardi Gras celebrity kings

Muses kicks off a string of celebrity-studded parades leading up to Mardi Gras on Tuesday. The parades are held by individual krewes - social clubs that spend all year putting together the elaborate floats and costumes.

The pop-rock band Maroon 5 rides with the krewe Endymion on Saturday night, comedian and actor Will Ferrell rides as king of Bacchus on Sunday night and rocker Bret Michaels will join Grammy-winning singer Cyndi Lauper in Orpheus on Monday.

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Theresa Andersson will also be featured in Muses, and as her float rolls through the city streets she will perform songs from her upcoming album "Street Parade," accompanied by a 50-piece marching band. It will be the first time Andersson performs her new songs for the general public. The album's release date is April 24.

Clarkson, the New Orleans-born star of the 2010 thriller "Shutter Island" and the 2003 drama "Pieces of April," will be riding in Muses aboard a red fiber-optic-lit float shaped like a high-heeled shoe. Like other riders in the parade, Clarkson will hand out high-heeled shoes decorated with glitter, beads and feathers.

"I am so honored to be the lady leading all of this," Clarkson said. "This is how I want to wake up every day, to a jazz band and ladies with goodies and trinkets greeting me."