NEW ORLEANS - Bead necklaces poured from the French Quarter's balconies onto costumed revelers and National Guardsmen in the final fling of a Mardi Gras celebration that ended with the country under a terrorism alert.
This year's Mardi Gras festivities around the country were less disruptive than last year, when Seattle police dealt with three nights of scuffles that left one man dead and 70 injured, and Philadelphia saw rioting, with partiers smashing storefront windows and looting stores.
On Tuesday, Seattle police broke up some minor scuffles and made more than 60 arrests, while Philadelphia's Fat Tuesday celebration had only minor fights and vandalism.
In New Orleans, where police didn't immediately release arrest information, the parties included plenty of red, white and blue amid the usual purple, green and gold decorations.
Ed Burke, dressed as Uncle Sam, said he knew about the FBI's warning of a possible terrorist strike on Tuesday but said it didn't faze him.
"We're not in fear," he said. "Does anyone here look like they're in fear?"
The Sept. 11 terrorism did alter Mardi Gras events, the final fling leading up to Lent.
National Guardsmen patrolled Mardi Gras for the first time, and the festivities were interrupted this year by the Super Bowl. The NFL game was pushed back a week by the terrorist attacks, forcing New Orleans to split the two weekends of parades that lead up to Fat Tuesday.
Crowds appeared to be down slightly, said chef Horst Pfeifer, but he blamed that on economic uncertainty rather than fears about safety.
"So many put all this money in their 401K the last year, and it didn't get any bigger," he said. "People are just cutting back on spending a little."
Clarinet player Pete Fountain and his Half-Fast Walking Club added a patriotic touch. Marching in his 41st Mardi Gras, he dressed as a sheriff, and his 150 fellow walkers wore gold cowboy costumes with American flag patches on the sleeves.
"It's the time to be patriotic," Fountain said. "If you don't love this country now, get the hell out of it."
Mardi Gras calmer this year
Published: Thu Feb 14, 2002 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:05 p.m.