NEW ORLEANS—Rex, the king of Carnival, who represents the pomp of Mardi Gras faux royalty, had a bit more boogie on Tuesday.
New Orleans Saints' pennants were displayed on the king's float and others throughout the parade.
The day's first parade, Zulu, however went them one better. The krewe had actual Saints players on one of their floats, tossing beads and little foam footballs.
The team's Super Bowl victory, after only nine winning seasons in 43 years, fed into the euphoria of Mardi Gras, giving New Orleans' annual party a definite "Who Dat" flavor.
In addition to a victory parade for the Saints a week earlier, quarterback Drew Brees, coach Sean Payton and Saints owner Tom Benson all rode in parades as Carnival monarchs.
"It's really something special," said Jerry Winston, 39. "The Saints. Mardi Gras. Everyone is feeling fine now."
The traditional cry of "Throw me something, Mister," was frequently drowned out by the fans' rallying cry of "Who Dat."
Along the parade route several people held aloft homemade versions of the Lombardi Trophy, which is given to the Super Bowl champion. In the French Quarter, two men were costumed as giant, silver trophies.
Melissa Anderson, an Aurora, Colo., native who moved to the New Orleans suburb of Lacombe, La., after Hurricane Katrina, said the Super Bowl win has added something special this year.
"We saw Sean Payton walking around with the Lombardi trophy and everybody wanted to touch it," she said. "It was just great fun."
Pigs with wings were a popular costume, reflecting the long-suffering fans' belief of what would happen when the Saints finally won the big game. A group of walking fleur-di-lis, the symbol of both the team and the city, strolled down Bourbon Street.
Even the replica of a street car that clarinetist Pete Fountain and his band parade in was decked with Saints' banners.
"The Saints made this the best Mardi Gras ever," said Fountain, 79, whose "Half Fast Walking Club" was marching for the 50th year.
Mayor Ray Nagin and other city officials road on horseback to the reviewing stand outside Gallier Hall where they would watch the parades and toast the kings of Rex and Zulu.
Nagin, making his last ride as mayor, wore a jacket saluting the Saints' Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Lloyd Boudreaux, 46, of Belle Chasse, with wife Christin, pulling 5-year-old daughter, Haley, in a red radio flyer wagon full of beads, headed home after the last of the truck parade, which follows Rex. He said Mardi Gras capped a wild week for them that included watching the Saints beat the Colts in the French Quarter and staying several hours after it was over to celebrate.
"Everybody is still on a high," said Boudreaux, who was wearing a Saints hat and shirt, and trading high-fives with police along the street. "It's amazing. The city just looks so much more vibrant."
Anderson said this is her fourth Mardi Gras since Katrina and she feels a change in the air.
"More locals have come back, and I think more people are coming out here to visit," she said. "They were so afraid to come here because of Katrina ... Every year, you're seeing more tourists, more people who have never been here before."
And as the day's party began to wind down along the family-friendly route, the night celebration was just getting started.
The French Quarter was full of revelers in costume Tuesday and as the sun set, wall-to-wall people parked on Bourbon Street. Besides the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, many sported Saints-themed costumes, jerseys and black and gold beads. One group wore giant, foam fleurs-de-lis painted with the popular Saints slogans "Bless You Boys" and "I Bleed Black and Gold."
"If you have any tie in to vibrational energies, I would say New Orleans is vibrating off the ground," said New Orleans resident Peta LeBlanc, wearing a Mardi Gras mask and feather boa. "We are just so excited."
LeBlanc said the Super Bowl win added to the Mardi Gras atmosphere this year.
"After having 5 feet of water in my house and losing so much, you just feel like 'Oh my God,' you know," she said. "The planet is lifting us."
Police reported a shooting in the French Quarter shortly after 7 p.m. A bullet went through the leg of one woman walking along Bourbon Street and into another woman's leg.
Police said the injuries were not life threatening. Their identities were not released. No arrests were made.
The party wrapped up at midnight when police cleared Bourbon Street and Lent began.
"Tomorrow (it's) back to reality," Christin Boudreaux said.