NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Christmas wreaths and holiday parties are giving way to king cakes and street parades as the Carnival season kicks off this weekend along the Gulf Coast.
In New Orleans, the noisy and colorful streetcar ride of the Phunny Phorty Phellows troupe will mark the first street appearance of the Carnival season.
The costumed revelers will board a St. Charles Avenue streetcar on Sunday. That day is Twelfth Night, the traditional start of the Carnival season. For many Christians, it also marks the end of the Christmas season.
Between this weekend and Fat Tuesday - Feb. 12 - parades will roll through dozens of communities along the Gulf Coast, where the Mardi Gras tradition arrived with French explorers and colonists who established Mobile, Ala., Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans.