Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mardi Gras? Non. Samedi Mince? Oui.
Mardi Gras Crowds Small but Celebratory

NEW ORLEANS - The first of the major Mardi Gras parades with marching bands, brightly decorated floats and flying plastic beads rolled down New Orleans' streets Saturday, greeted by small but celebratory crowds.

Despite the widespread destruction from Hurricane Katrina, officials decided to allow a scaled-back Mardi Gras celebration this year. New Orleans parades, put on by private groups, were restricted to one corridor to help cut the cost of police protection and trash pickup.

Five parades rolled back-to-back in New Orleans on Saturday under cloudy damp skies through neighborhoods left mostly unscathed by the Aug. 29 storm. More were scheduled for Sunday and next weekend, leading up to Fat Tuesday on Feb. 28...

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