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Rain delays but can't stop Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans

A Mardi Gras float is moved into position after heavy rains near the start of the Krewe of Endymion parade, which was postponed for an hour due to weather, Saturday in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS -- Heavy rains dampened but couldn't stop Mardi Gras festivities on Saturday.

While several parades were delayed until Sunday, which is forecast to be sunny and mild, the 2,500-member Krewe of Endymion rolled through a Mid-City route an hour late Saturday with a 27-float parade titled "Happily Ever After."

Thousands of celebrants who turned out stayed despite heavy wind and rain pounding tents and tarps.

The area's north shore received much of the Saturday's storm damage, with trees and power lines knocked down, local media reported.

Jonathan Bachman / AP

Two-year-old Alan Stoltz waits for the Krewe of Endymion parade to begin after heavy rains Saturday in New Orleans.

With the parade delays, six krewes are set to roll Sunday, meaning parades from 9 a.m. into the night, said NBC station WDSU.

Sunday night, actor Will Ferrell, who's been making the political comedy movie "Dog Fight" in New Orleans, will serve as Bacchus XLIV in the superkrewe's annual parade.

Rocker Bret Michaels, pop queen Cyndi Lauper, singer Adam Levine and Maroon 5, and newscaster Anderson Cooper are among the others leading parades this season.

Jonathan Bachman / AP

Members of Krewe of Endymion walk past a puddle of water after heavy rains, which postponed the parade Saturday for an hour in New Orleans.

The Carnival season that leads up to Mardi Gras actually begins in January, with a heavy schedule of parades and balls slated during the two weeks before Fat Tuesday.

WDSU live camera on Bourbon Street in New Orleans 

New Orleans krewes adhere strictly to a rule that prohibits commercial sponsorship of their events. "The people riding in the parades pay all the costs to put on a show that the audience can enjoy for free," said writer and Mardi Gras historian Errol Laborde.

A recent study of the economics of Mardi Gras, by Tulane University economics professor Toni Weiss, estimated that krewes spend more than $20 million annually to put on their events.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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