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Fat Tuesday in New Orleans

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Associated Press and CNN

NEW ORLEANS -- Tuesday is the day of parades and parties in New Orleans.

Revelers are gathered in the French Quarter to celebrate the season and watch the annual parades through the city.

Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Walking Club started the day, followed by the Zulu and Rex parades and the meeting of the courts of Rex and Comus tonight.

The hotel association expects more than 90 percent of the area's 32,000 hotel rooms will be filled during the long weekend ending tomorrow, Ash Wednesday and the official start to Lent. Some 800,000 people were on hand last year.

Sporadic violence has been reported during Mardi Gras celebrations this year. Police blame it mostly on drug disputes or personal grudges. A police official says it's "the rarest of times where actual true, good, law-abiding citizens are hurt."

This is the third Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.

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