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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Mardi Gras continues despite cold, wet weather conditions

NEW ORLEANS — Mardi Gras revelers hit the streets in force Tuesday, ignoring cold, wet weather and turning aside anxieties over the threat of war with Iraq and the lagging national economy.
Jazz musician Pete Fountain, whose Half Fast marching club is traditionally one of the first of the day, lurched toward the French Quarter ahead of the big parades. It was the 43rd year for Fountain, resplendent in a white, orange and green feather headdress as he led actor John Goodman and others in the dancing, bead-throwing tribe.
“It never gets old,” Fountain said.
Although heavy rain nearly washed out Monday’s celebration, Tuesday’s fog and drizzle, with temperatures in the 50s, failed to dampen spirits.
“We weren’t going to let the weather stop us, although I had second, third and fourth thoughts by now,” said Donna Lewis of Mandeville. She said she arrived about 2 a.m. to stake out a parade-watching spot along historic St. Charles Avenue, set up a canopy, put out chairs and left two teenagers to guard her group’s spot.
The annual festival of elaborate parades, street parties and rowdy excess takes hold of New Orleans, Mobile and other Gulf Coast cities before the fasting and penitence of Lent, the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
There seemed to be more costumes than usual.
A dozen maskers calling themselves the Krewe of Homeland Security wore plastic drapes and duct tape, with colored dots representing smallpox. Each carried cans of baby powder “anthrax” and handed out Mardi Gras Alerts, declaring the security status as purple, green and gold, the traditional Carnival colors.
“We figured if Tom Ridge could keep us safe for the rest of the year, we could keep everyone safe for Mardi Gras,” said Jane Gardner Aprill of New Orleans.
While the city does not officially release crowd estimates until after Mardi Gras ends, many longtime residents said traffic appeared to be down this year.
Antoni Tsatsoulis, 26, said he has spent Mardi Gras at his family’s cafe for about the past 20 years and could not recall smaller crowds.
“Whatever business we did last year, it had to be about twice as much as this year,” he said.
Balcony space on Bourbon Street, usually booked a year in advance, was available in spots right up through Monday because of cancellations.
“I think it’s because of the threat of war and all the security,” said Angelle Blanchard, manager of one business with an open balcony on Monday.
But Blanchard said fears that people would stay away may have been overstated.
“I don’t think there’s that much change. People are still making money,” she said.

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