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Mardi Gras Celebrations Under Way in New Orleans

The hurricane-damaged city of New Orleans is celebrating the final weekend of its famous Mardi Gras festival.

Thousands of people gathered to see decorated vehicles, called floats, parade through the city's streets Saturday and catch strings of beads thrown from the floats and nearby buildings.

More parades were scheduled Sunday. Some of the city's social clubs had rescheduled their activities because of rain.

The Mardi Gras festival often draws more than one million visitors to the city, but fewer were expected this year because of flooding and other damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in August.

City officials agreed to carry on with the annual tradition, in part to attract tourists and help rebuild the city's economy.

The celebrations culminate February 28, on what is known as "Fat Tuesday," the last day before the Christian Lenten season of fasting begins.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.