NEW ORLEANS -- The bands blared, and the crowd begged for beads from all too willing riders as a new year of Mardi Gras festivities kicked off in Slidell, Louisana on January 29th.
The Krewe of Claude Social Aid and Pleasure Club marked its 25th anniversary, but what the crowd wanted was long beads, and there were plenty of those for even the most excited Slidell resident.
"(I'm excited)," laughed Gloria Poole. "And these are my nieces, and they're from St. Louis, and they came just for the parade."
Gloria Poole was delighted to have her nieces with her, because they added to the Mardi Gras excitement she was already feeling.
"It's great, I love it, I love Mardi Gras. It's so much fun, isn't it? How many parades do you think you'll go to this year? All of them."
There was a parade of another sort at Armstrong International Airport, as members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club staged a large, happy and vibrant second line through the main concourse.
Startled visitors ignored their luggage and grabbed cameras to record an event they didn't understand, but knew the folks back home wouldn't believe without proof.
"What is happening?" asked Dave Kudzma of Salisbury, Maryland. "It's very impressive. I like it. I like music."
The second line was to welcome Zulu's queen, Dr. Tanyanika Phillips, back to New Orleans for the start of her reign. The cancer specialist moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma four months ago, but this is a childhood dream come true for the New Orleans native.
"This is an exceptional honor," she said. "I am truly excited to be a part of such a wonderful organization, been in our community for over a hundred years, so this is exceptional."
And Zulu's King can't wait for an amazing ride on Mardi Gras Day.
"I think it will be a great parade, beautiful floats, great bands, and lots of coconuts," said King Zului 2012 Elroy James. "Um, words can't explain it. Catch me after Mardi Gras, and I might have something to tell you."