Participants in the Zulu parade tempt watchers with prized Zulu Mardi Gras beads early Tuesday morning in New Orleans. Zulu was the first parade of Mardi Gras. At the stroke of midnight Tuesday, the spectacular parades, parties and costumed merrymakers gave way to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. About 1 million celebrants packed parade routes and the French Quarter at the peak of festivities despite near-freezing temperatures. Police records indicated the carnival crowd was one of the rowdiest in years, with 1,698 arrests reported.