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Friday, February 01, 2008

Celebrities in New Orleans for Carnival

According to an article on Mardi Gras at the MercuryNews.com, stars will be flocking to New Orleans for Mardi Gras festivities:

For parade goers, celebrity watching will be as fun as grabbing the throws tossed from the floats as Carnival goes into high gear this weekend with Fat Tuesday just days away.

They include actor/director Kevin Costner as grand marshal of the Krewe of Endymion, one of the largest and glitziest parades. He'll be joined by the Doobie Brothers and Belinda Carlisle, former lead singer of the Go-Gos.

On Sunday, wrestler and reality TV star Hulk Hogan will reign as king of the Krewe of Bacchus. NBC's "Today" morning talk show correspondent Hoda Kotb and weatherman Al Roker will be grand marshals of the Krewe of Argus on Fat Tuesday in suburban Metairie. Also on Mardi Gras (which means Fat Tuesday), clarinetist Pete Fountain will lead a cadre of locals and celebrities for the annual trek of the Half-Fast Marching Club.

Orpheus, the glittery parade founded in 1993 by singer Harry Connick Jr., has one of the longest list of celebs. Besides Salt-N-Pepa, Lance Bass and Kevin Meaney—stars of the Broadway musical "Hairspray"—daytime television star Christian LeBlanc and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will ride.

Among them Monday night will be Bridget Marquardt, Holly Madison and Kendra Wilkinson, stars of E! cable network's Playboy-based reality show "The Girls Next Door." They'll be throwing a fundraiser on Lundi Gras, or Mardi Gras eve, for actor Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation at the House of Blues in the French Quarter. Pitt's charity is rebuilding homes in the Lower 9th Ward destroyed by Katrina in 2005.

But celebrities didn't become a regular highlight until the first Bacchus parade in 1969, when dancer/actor Danny Kaye reigned.

Since then, dozens have gotten into the spirit. "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, for example, was last year's king of Bacchus and followed in the footsteps of such big names as Bob Hope and Ron Howard. John Goodman, Chuck Norris, Jason Alexander, Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd have served as past grand marshals for Endymion, and Glenn Close, Sandra Bullock, Forest Whitaker and Whoopi Goldberg are among those who've ridden in Orpheus.

Get in on the fun of Mardis Gras this year! Check out the huge selection of Mardi Gras costumes and masks at mardigrascostumes.com.

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