NEW ORLEANS — Dressed in elaborate costumes, dancing to the beat of brass bands and clamoring for beads from passing floats, thousands of people gathered in the streets of New Orleans to mark the culmination of the famous Mardi Gras celebration Tuesday.

The last day of parades rolled along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street, float riders throwing beads to bystanders as revelers in other parts of the city like the French Quarter and the Marigny partied in the streets in elaborate costumes.

Fat Tuesday is the last day of the Carnival season before Lent, a period of penance and spiritual renewal, begins Wednesday.

“It’s fun. You see all the people. You see everybody dressed up, and you have a good time. I love New Orleans,” said Barbara Tate, who came down from Maryland for the holiday.

The big celebration started before sunrise Tuesday when about one hundred people turned out at the Backstreet Cultural Museum to see the North Side Skull & Bone Gang come out.

The gang is a longtime Mardi Gras tradition. They wear costumes resembling skeletons with papier mache masks covering their heads and go through the neighborhood waking people up on Fat Tuesday.

Dabne Whitemore came to the door in her white bathrobe after hearing the gang and their drums coming from down the street.

She said she’s been living in the neighborhood for about 15 years and called the tradition “wonderful.”

Fat Tuesday marks the end of the Mardi Gras season before the beginning of Lent, a period of penance and spiritual renewal.

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