Festive King's Day kicks off 2017 Carnival season

Festive King's Day kicks off 2017 Carnival season

The miserable weather could not dampen the kickoff for the 2017 Carnival season in New Orleans.

Hundreds packed Mardi Gras World on the riverfront Friday for a ceremony to mark the official start of the parade season that culminates on Fat Tuesday.

"After now having hosted over 10 million people last year is now about to start off on the season that won't stop with Mardi Gras," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The annual event was held on what's known as Kings Day, when locals begin eating king cakes.

The Rex Carnival Krewe used the occasion to honor the city's world renowned St. Augustine High School Band for its long relationship with Rex, one of the city's premier Mardi Gras krewes.

During racially charged times 50 years ago, St. Aug accepted an invitation to march in the Rex parade. The all-boys school is historically African-American.

"That year saw a very important step, not only for Rex, but the city. St. Aug accepted our invitation to participate in our parade," said Christian Brown.

"We are proud of our 50-year anniversary with the Rex Organization," said St. Aug. President Dr. Kenneth St. Charles.

A king cake was cut and specialty artwork was unveiled.

Of course, this Carnival season comes as a lot of people are still concerned about the level of gun violence in the city.

"We had a really good weekend over the Sugar Bowl. You saw a really new security package in and around the Quarter, they did a great job. Our first responders are excellent about what they do, our response times are great and I have every reason to believe our Carnival is going to be really wonderful," said Landrieu.

Still, the Krewe of Zulu will use its Fat Tuesday parade to remind revelers of a stubborn scourge. The theme of its parade will be "Stop the Violence."

"We felt like we were the ones that could address that, so as a we said that we wanted to message to the community stop the violence in 2017 stop the violence, what is going on is not natural," said Zulu President Naaman Stewart, to applause.

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