NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Revelers hit the streets Tuesday to celebrate Mardi Gras, lured to the French Quarter and stately oak-lined avenues by the chance to snag beads and baubles from seemingly endless parades in the final unfettered party before the somber season of Lent.

For a list of Mardi Gras Day parades, click here:

The Advocate’s Mardi Gras Parade list

At the Superdome, the predominantly African-American Zulu krewe loaded their floats with their signature decorated coconuts, a parade crowd favorite. Most were in the traditional black-face makeup and afro wigs krewe members have sported for decades.

Meanwhile in the Garden District, clarinetist Pete Fountain prepared to lead his Half-Fast Walking Club on its annual march down St. Charles Avenue, the traditional start of the daylong series of parades.

After Zulu, the parade of Rex, king of Carnival, will make the trek down the avenue and to the city’s business district, with hundreds of thousands of people pleading for beads and doubloons.

Across the Gulf Coast, Mardi Gras was getting into full swing. In the Cajun country of southwest Louisiana, masked riders were preparing to go from town to town, making merry along the way in the Courir du Mardi Gras. And parades were scheduled elsewhere around Louisiana and on the Mississippi and Alabama coasts.

The end of Mardi Gras gives way to the beginning of Lent, the period of fasting and repentance before Easter Sunday.