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Patrick Semansky, Associated Press
Cadets from The Citadel perform a maneuver as they march with the Krewe of Thoth Mardi Gras parade on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Sunday, March 6, 2011. Mardi Gras season ends with an all-day celebration on Tuesday, March 8th.

NEW ORLEANS — With ideal weather as a backdrop, crowds poured onto the streets in the traditional warm-up for Carnival's big show on Mardi Gras.

Sunday featured celebrity-laden parades — including CNN's Anderson Cooper, actress Kelly Ripa, the rock band Train and actor Andy Garcia. Also, of course, was the typical drunken revelry of the French Quarter where tourists, locals and swarms of spring breakers rubbed shoulders.

The pre-Lenten festivities on Saturday were washed out by heavy downpours that canceled parades and forced the superkrewe of Endymion, a crowd favorite, to be pushed back until Sunday.

The line of thunderstorms that crossed Louisiana spawned a tornado that killed a mother shielding her child from the fierce winds in Rayne, La.