New Orleans Prepares for 312th Year of Mardi Gras

The city of New Orleans is in preparation for yet another year of "The Greatest Free Show on Earth," Mardi Gras. With "Fat Tuesday" only three weeks away, the city is full of excitment as organization for the 312-year old tradition kicks off.

More than 60 parades are scheduled to roll through the Greater New Orleans area in the coming month, many of which will run simultaneously. These range from French Quarter walking crews like Pete Fountain's infamous Half-Fast Walking Club to "super krewes" like Orpheus, whose ornate floats cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take months to build.

One notable exception to all the preparations in the city is the Superdome, home to last year's Superbowl champions, the Saints. Its doors are closed for carnival while it receives a full makeover in anticipation of hosting Superbowl XLVII in 2013. This means that the "Krewe of Endymion," who holds its annual Extravaganza ball inside the hallowed round walls, will temporarily move their festivities to the Morial Convention Center. Found among the krewe members of Endymion this year will be celebrities Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa and Pat Benatar, who will all serve as royalty.

Mardi Gras historian and local author Arthur Hardy says, "No one in New Orleans would've minded a repeat of last year's Superbowl win, but we're all still looking forward to a record-setting Carnival season."



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