“Mardi Gras” means “Fat Tuesday.” Traditionally, it is the last day for Catholics to indulge—and often overindulge—before Ash Wednesday starts the weeks of fasting that come with Lent. Mardi Gras has long been a time of extravagant fun for… European Christians all over the world. In the United States, Mardi Gras draws millions of fun-seekers to New Orleans every year for the two-week celebration building to the excitement of Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans on a grand scale, with masked balls and colorful parades, since French settlers arrived in the early 1700s. Marching bands open the day by spreading jazz music through the city before the more than 350 floats and 15,000 costumed paraders take over the scene. Crazy costumes and wild make-up are the order of the day for paraders and parade-watchers alike. The millions of colorful beaded necklaces thrown from floats are the most visible symbols and souvenirs of this crazy celebration. Happy Mardi Gras – throw me something mister!