Fat Tuesday began in the early morning hours Tuesday, marking the final unfettered party before Lent.
Post-midnight celebrations Monday featured entertainers Cyndi Lauper and Bret Michaels, who gave performances and tossed beads to members of the crowd.
Lundi Gras - or Shrove Monday - has become more popular in the last couple of decades, the Chicago Tribune said. The centerpiece is the ceremonial meeting between the king and queen of the Zulu krewe and Rex, the King of Carnival, and his queen.
Fat Tuesday is the official end of the Carnival season and is described as a thrill complete with food, booze, masked parties and other entertainment. The end of Mardi Gras gives way to the beginning of Lent, the period of fasting and repentance before Easter Sunday.
The French Quarter was full of costumed revelers, an nj.com article said, and the stakeout for prime spots along the Mardi Gras parade route started Monday. Die-hard parade-goers jockey for the best places to vie for beads thrown from floats on Tuesday.
Stephanie Chapman and her family said they would arrive at 4 a.m. today and would remain for the duration of the parade.
"This is a beautiful day and we'll be here until it's over," she said. "It won't rain on my parade, but if it does I won't pay any attention," she said.
Mardi Gras was getting into full swing across the Gulf Coast Monday. In the Cajun country of southwest Louisiana masked riders were preparing to go from town to town, making merry along the way in the Courir du Mardi Gras, nj.com said. Parades were scheduled elsewhere around Louisiana and on the Mississippi and Alabama coasts as well.
The celebration arrived in Louisiana in 1682 when the explorer LaSalle and his party stopped at a place they called Bayou Mardi Gras south of New Orleans to celebrate.