NEW ORLEANS — The merriment of Mardi Gras has ended and the solemn season of Lent has begun Wednesday.
New Orleans police swept through Bourbon Street at midnight in the city's annual ritual of letting Carnival revelers know the party is over — until next year.
Jim Baker of New Orleans said he usually dresses in costume for Mardi Gras, but the weather deterred him this year.
Baker said he chose to celebrate a little differently, sipping cocktails under the cover of a friend's French Quarter patio balcony while watching other costumed revelers brave the cold and rain.
Temperatures for most of the day in the New Orleans area were in the lower 40s and by early evening were at about 38 degrees. The wind chill made it feel even colder.
But there's one tradition Baker said he won't be straying from — rain or shine — and that's attending Mass and receiving ashes the day after Mardi Gras on Ash Wednesday.
"That's when I begin thinking about Easter," said Baker, who is Catholic. "It's about celebration and sacrifice before Easter, to show that you're appreciative of being here."