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Cold, rain forecast for Mardi Gras in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Despite rain and cold in Tuesday's forecast, thousands of people were expected to line the traditional parade routes overnight to get a prime spot for Mardi Gras - New Orleans' biggest show.

Mark Nelson, of St. Louis, will be attending his first Fat Tuesday. He said he's going to be in the mix even in a downpour.

"That's why God made washing machines," said Nelson, who was sipping on a daiquiri as he enjoyed the sounds of trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, who performed at the Lundi Gras festivities Monday along the Mississippi River.

Nelson said he came for the experience to support his U.S. Department of Energy co-worker, Melvin Labat, who's also a member of the Krewe of Zulu and this year's Province Prince.

"I was at Muses and caught a coveted shoe and I already got a (Zulu) signature coconut so I'm ahead of the game," he said.

Rain was expected to hit the metropolitan area sometime after 10:00 a.m. local time, which means it could rain on both the krewes of Zulu and Rex. Temperatures were not expected to rise above the low 40s.

Zulu's 2014 Witch Doctor, Derek Rabb, of New Orleans, is charged with praying for the krewe's good health and good weather on Mardi Gras day. "By God's grace, there will be sun," he said.

When out of costume, Rabb works at New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. A member of the organization for the past eight years, he said being in such a high profile position has been an experience he won't soon forget.

"It's been a whole lot of fun," he said. "It's allowed me to meet some really interesting people."

Kitty Jensen, of Washington, D.C., said she and about 15 others from the nation's capital were part of the Kilt of Many Colors and were scheduled to march in the second parade of the day, Rex, king of Carnival.

"We are the party that never ends," said Jensen, dressed in an airy, royal purple ball gown, reminiscent of the Renaissance era.

"I'll be much warmer on Tuesday, with those heavy wool kilts on," she said.

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