AP PHOTOS: A look at Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans through the years

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Carnival season comes to a close Tuesday with thousands of people expected to crowd the streets of New Orleans and surrounding communities for the annual Mardi Gras celebration complete with parade floats, neighborhood street parties and jammed restaurants and bars in the old French Quarter.

The Rex Organization, founded in the 19th century, rolls every Fat Tuesday, with the role of Rex, King of Carnival, filled each year by a different local dignitary. The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, founded by Black laborers in the early 1900s, also rolls Tuesday. The major carnival clubs — also known as krewes — typically culminate their rides with a black-tie affair or hold such an event as a precursor to their trip through the city’s streets.

Actor Kevin Dillon, reigning as king of the Krewe of Bacchus, rolled Sunday amid muggy temperatures and an overcast sky. Previous kings include actors William Shatner, John Ritter and Billy Crystal.

Chilly temperatures and some strong winds were forecast for Tuesday’s rides — nothing that should stop the party or screaming throngs of costumed people clamoring for the coveted “throws,” large and small brightly colored plastic bead necklaces and other trinkets such as stuffed animals, plastic cups and hula hoops.

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