For many locals, Mardi Gras weekend really begins on Thursday. The trio of parades that roll tonight represent three centuries of parading heritage.

First, led by their captain on a mini-float and 12 lieutenants on horseback, the 305-member Knights of Babylon roll for the 79th time with 26 floats. King Sargon’s float is mule-drawn and surrounded by flambeaux.

Krewe-emblemed throws include jester pillows and 3-D cups, but the Knights’ most collectible throws will be the fourth edition of the Babylon T-shirt, which proclaims, “Carnival Begins When Babylon Rolls.” The final float salutes the Tricentennial of New Orleans.

Following Babylon come the Knights of Chaos, founded in 2000 as a reincarnation of the Knights of Momus, which paraded from 1872 to 1991. Chaos purchased the old Momus floats, which are decorated by Royal Artists. Expect heavy and funny political satire in this parade.

The 225 men of Chaos throw float-specific cards and periwinkle blue anodized doubloons. Flambeaux are traditionally featured in the procession.

The final parade of the evening belongs to the all-female Krewe of Muses, which has been credited with transforming Carnival in a way not seen since Bacchus debuted in 1969.

Muses can proudly take credit for the growth and popularity of new female krewes. Innovative signature throws and the addition of bawdily named female marching groups have become the club’s trademarks. The 1,118-member krewe promises a 26-float procession, including a new float for the officers called "The Godyssey."

Muses’ signature floats include the Shoe, the Bathtub and the new Duck Family floats introduced last year. This year’s Honorary Muse is New Orleans Mayor-elect Latoya Cantrell.

The club produces an incredible assortment of more than 30 krewe-logo items. One of the most coveted items of the season is the Muses decorated shoe.

The Sirens float, the final one in the parade, is one of the season’s best and is worth waiting for.