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Over the years, indelible images of Mardi Gras have been seared into our collective consciousness — beads, puddles of beer, lascivious costumes, and scenes of outright debauchery. Yet in post-K (Katrina) Mardi Gras, the accent is on celebrations for kids, families, fashionistas, even foodies. The fun begins the morning of Fat Tuesday, which falls on February 16 this year. Here are some of the high notes, along with one show-stopping alternative.






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CULTURE

EUNICE COURIR DE MARDI GRAS
Mardi Gras in the rural town of Eunice, Louisiana, is celebrated much as it was hundreds of years ago. Masked revelers roam the countryside singing, dancing, and begging for ingredients for a communal gumbo. Le Capitaine leads horseback riders and hay wagons, and the celebration ends in a gumbo feast for all. www.cajuntravel.com

KREWE OF MUSES
The only all-female night parade, Muses is heavy on satire and style and renowned for its fashionable “throws” — handmade glittered shoes, plush spears, powder puffs, and shoe bracelets (yes, there is such a thing). www.kreweofmuses.org

REX ORGANIZATION
This celebration is a must simply for its history and pageantry. A wooden wagon fl oat with woodspoke wheels carries the monarch “Rex” on his 10 a.m. ride through the city en route to Gallier Hall (the former City Hall), where he toasts the mayor and his urban subjects prior to the ball of Mardi Gras. www.rexorganization.com

MARDI GRAS INDIANS
It’s not a traditional parade but a convivial event in various local neighborhoods. African- Americans take to the streets in elaborate feathered headdresses and beaded costumes to honor the American Indians who helped free them from slavery. www.backstreetmuseum.org

PETE FOUNTAIN’S HALF FAST WALKING CLUB
This is the 50th anniversary for famed clarinetist Fountain and his jazz-band/celebrity-accompanied stroll that begins at Commander’s Palace. You must rise early: The woodwinds tune up at 7:30 a.m. sharp. Or flat. No, sharp. (504) 524-6255

LE PETIT THÉÂTRE DU VIEUX CARRÉ
A visit to Le Petit Théâtre, the oldest continuous community theater in America, makes a nice alternative to street processions. This lovingly restored French Quarter gem occasionally hosts Broadway talent on its main stage, and it also boasts a cozy cabaret. www.lepetittheatre.com

ZULU SOCIAL AID & PLEASURE CLUB
Local music icon Louis Armstrong was the most famous of the Zulu Kings. The Zulu Parade is now a full-on parody, but it’s still famous for the Zulu Coconuts thrown by riders. www.lundigrasfestival.com


BUY THIS (AND A HELMET)

Think Ducati and you’d usually think expensive, but with the introduction of the Italian brand’s 2010 Hypermotard 796, owning one of the company’s prestigious handmade beasts of the open road just became a (whole) lot more affordable. Costing a mere $9,995, the 796 is lightweight (368 lb.) and easy to handle, thanks to a redesigned frame consisting of mostly forged (not cast) elements, and a light-action APTC “wet” clutch — that’s fancy talk for saying it’s lubricated — that prevents the rear from going all wonky when you downshift suddenly (also known as showing off). Bonus? It gets about 51 mpg. So it’s cheap, looks hot, and saves you gas money. Do we have to explain everything? www.ducatiusa.com — Anna Fialho