New Orleans Kicks Off Extra-Long 2011 Carnival Season

New Orleans has said so long to the holidays and used the Twelfth Night observance to kick off the Carnival season — which will be extra long this year.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, accompanied by New Orleans clarinetist Pete Fountain, on Thursday served up slices of king cake, the traditional Carnival pastry, at historic Gallier Hall where the mayor greets parading royalty on Mardi Gras Day.

Between Thursday and when Carnival celebrations wrap up March 8, about 100 parades will roll through area streets or float down waterways. The first was the Phunny Phorty Phellows on Thursday night. The group rides a St. Charles Avenue streetcar on Twelfth Night — which for some Christians marks the end of the Christmas season — to kick off the debauchery associated with Carnival.