NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The countdown to Mardi Gras is getting underway in New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu planned to note the beginning of the Carnival season with a news conference Tuesday at a riverside warehouse where many of the huge, colorful floats for Carnival parades are on display.
And a group of masked revelers known as the Phorty Phunny Phellows scheduled their annual streetcar ride through town on Tuesday evening - a decades-old tradition marking the 12th night after Christmas and the official start of the season.
Carnival is celebrated along the Gulf Coast with parties, balls and parades culminating on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, a final day of celebration before Lent.
It is a major tourist draw in New Orleans. Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 17 this year.