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Come to the Mardi Gras!

Zulu king, Mardi Grtas, New orleans

Zulu king, Mardi Gras, New Orleans — image property of nola.com

Even if you can’t make it down to the NOLA for today’s big parades that wrap up the Carnival season, you can still get in on the action via the Web, wherever you — or your smartphone — happen to be.

This one’s for all the folks out there, be they displaced natives or nostalgic visitors, who “know what it means to miss New Orleans.” Especially on this day.

But even if you’ve never set foot in the place, that’s all right. You can jump on in here, too.

Tuesday is Fat Tuesday — or in French, Mardi Gras. It’s the last day of Carnival a season of unrestrained, self-indulgent merriment before the sobering self-denial of Lent.

Carnival is celebrated all around the world, but there are two cities that have done more to drive this day into global consciousness than any other. One is Rio de Janeiro. The other is New Orleans.

In the NOLA, it’s all about parades. Big parades. Big crowds. Marching bands. Huge, gaudy floats, full of equally gaudy revelers tossing out beads, doubloons and other “throws” to paradegoers young and old, a daylong street party that won’t stop until midnight.

If you’re not in New Orleans but wish you could be, you can still enjoy the festivities, from the comfort and convenience of your own electronic devices, courtesy of webcams and streaming video.

But first things first.

There are nine parades scheduled for this Mardi Gras Day, but unless you live in the New Orleans area, you’re likely to see only two of them on television or on the Web — the Zulu parade and the Rex parade.

The Zulu parade, put on by the Krewe of Zulu, is always the first parade to roll on Mardi Gras morning, 8 a.m. Central Standard Time — 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific.

Zulu is followed two hours later by the Krewe of Rex.

These two are easily the most prestigious parades of the day, if not the entire Carnival season. The Zulu King and the King of Rex officially are the honorary co-rulers of New Orleans for the day, an honor bestowed on them by the mayor the day before, on Lundi Gras. Fat Monday.

Zulu and Rex are easily the two biggest and most prestigious parades of the day, each representing traditions that go back decades. And fromm St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District all the way up to Canal Street in the heart of downtown, the streets will be packed with spectators.

UPDATE
At least one suburban parade, the Krewe of Argus in Metairie, is being shown here and there.

Do keep an eye on those spectators, by the way. Some of them, depending on how much they choose to drink or how little they choose to wear for the occasion, may be a sight by themselves.

Now, how to get in on the happenings:

TELEVISION

  1. Check with your local cable or satellite TV provider to see if any of their stations are broadcasting the Mardi Gras parades from New Orleans this morning. One or more of them, especially perhaps a PBS station, just might show a half-hour or so of one parade.
  2. If that’s not happening, time to turn to the Web. New Orleans has five major TV stations, at least one of which is certain to be streaming the parades on their Web site. Last year, it was WDSU Channel 6 NBC did the honors, so check there first. But also check the Web sites of:

If you really want to get into the parades vicariously, WDSU and WWL also offer parade tracker apps on their respective sites for your iPhone or Android device, free for your download.

WEBCAMS
Treat these webcams as backups in case the TV station live feeds go down for some reason. Some of them will be sited on Bourdon Street and elsewhere in the French Quarter. No parades run through there (for reasons that will become all too apparent when you check out the action on the street), but the mostly good-natured chaos and revelry can be fun to watch.

Even if the majority of them are out-of-towners from everywhere.

If nothing else, let this whet your appetite and get you started on planning to attend next year’s Mardi Gras Day in person.

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