NEW ORLEANS (CBS News) — Revelers in evening gowns and tuxedoes danced into the wee hours Tuesday at glitzy balls, kicking off the annual Mardi Gras bash that spills costumed merrymakers into the streets of New Orleans for partying, parades and trinkets tossed from floats.
CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL-TV says the city is set for the traditional fun.
Al Johnson, singer of the catchy Mardi Gras tune “Carnival Time,” served as grand marshal of the Red Beans and Rice foot parade, a Monday prelude to the all-out revelry known as “Fat Tuesday.” He also joined in eating spicy traditional fare of red beans and rice before attending the Orpheus Ball, one of several as the partying began in this Mississippi River port.
Johnson told The Associated Press his catchy song – now synonymous with the annual Carnival seasons – got its inspiration from the Lower 9th Ward, a New Orleans district devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “It all started down there,” he said of the Louisiana neighborhood where levees broke and surging stormwaters splintered wooden homes. But after Katrina, he said, “Life is going on.”
Celebrities and celebrity watchers are also around at Mardi Gras and this year was no exception.