NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Gray skies couldn't dampen the spirit as Mardi Gras revelers partied on Fat Tuesday in waves of parading, costuming, drinking — and political commentary.

Mardi Gras
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Some bared flesh and threw beads on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Others wore costumes lampooning the BP oil spill or other headline-grabbing events. Overall, this year's Carnival season has been among the most raucous since Hurricane Katrina, partly because it overlaps with many colleges' spring breaks.

Clarinetist Pete Fountain kicked off street parading shortly after dawn with his marching group. The traditionally African-American Krewe of Zulu and the parade of Rex, King of Carnival, followed.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu led Zulu on horseback before dismounting at the antebellum-columned Gallier Hall for champagne toasts with Mardi Gras royalty.