Hundreds of thousands of revelers lined New Orleans streets Tuesday for a Mardi Gras celebration that dawned with the usual boozing and raunchy debauchery - tempered this year with a dose of wartime patriotism.

"I originally wanted to come as a queen, but then I decided, nah, today's a day to be patriotic," said Gaye Booth, 42, of Gretna, La. Instead of royal garb, she was decked out in red, white and blue clothing with yellow ribbons lacing her shoes.One man strolled along the avenue in an Uncle Sam costume.

Unflattering portraits of Iraq's Saddam Hussein abounded.

It was a similar scene Monday, when revelers, street musicians and even evangelists in search of lost souls began jamming the city's French Quarter in anticipation of the finale to a month of street parties, music and parades.

"People certainly get a little looser at Mardi Gras, especially in the French Quarter," said Gretchen Bosworth, who was handing out free condoms on behalf of the No AIDS Task Force. "We are going to try to remind them that they still need to take precautions."

A dozen parades, including one featuring "Rex," king of Mardi Gras, and another by the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, were expected to lure nearly 1 million people to the city's streets Tuesday.