It's Carnival season in New Orleans!March 8th is Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday. Parades are rolling down the streets, beads are being thrown by the handfuls, and masked revelers are having as much fun as they can before drying out for Lent.
Mardi Gras may just be one day, but Carnival season is weeks long. Parades go day and night and revelers toss beads from passing parade floats.
Party-goers on Bourbon Street balconies throw beads to the crowds below. It's difficult to overestimate the lengths people will go to in their frenzy for these shiny, plastic beads.
The parades of Mardi Gras are organized by "Krewes." Each crew builds its own floats, recruits marching bands from local high schools and setsits own route. The Krewe of Proteus seen here is one of the oldest parades in the city, started in 1882.
The Krewe of Zulu is the first parade of Mardi Gras day.
Known officially as the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, the krewe - like most others - is a year-round organization that promotes festivals and events in their community.
The King of Zulu, Anthony Tony Barker Sr. Many Krewes pick Kings and Queens (and governors and dukes etc.) each year.
The Krewe of Endymion, which holds one of the longest parades, rolls down New Orleans' St. Charles Avenue on Sunday. Mardi Gras may just be one day, but Carnival season lasts for weeks before Fat Tuesday.
Originally started as a means of hiding one's debauchery from neighbors, masks are an important tradition of Mardi Gras. It's another way to dress up and get out of the norm.
Celebrities get in on the action. CNN's Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa toss beads from an Endymion float on Sunday.
Unsurprisingly, many floats and Krewes are themed around good times and good drinks. The Krewe of Bacchus take it name from the Greek god of wine.
Mardi Gras is a time to be over-the-top. Bright colors, massive floats and sparkling trinkets are all part of the celebration.
Marching bands are a huge part of most parades. The blaring horns and drums pump up the crowds and keep the rhythm of the floats moving.
It's not all drunken revelry and bead tossing. Mardi Gras goes back hundreds of years, and many of the older traditions are still practiced, such as these masked horsemen from the Krewe of Proteus.
Hope you brought your costume.
One of the most prized trinkets thrown in any parade: a Zulu coconut.
Rex, King of Carnival, rolls through downtown New Orleans.
A float from the Krewe of Rex.
Float from the Krewe of Rex rolls down St. Charles Ave.
Not the most colorful costume, but it should keep these revelers clean. Those suits will get plenty of colors thrown at them before the day is done.