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NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The party is over in New Orleans as Mardi Gras comes to a close.

Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, for many Christians a period of reflection or fasting ahead of Easter.

The day’s rituals include rubbing ashes on the head of faithful in a reminder of mortality.

On the last day of revelry, thousands of people took to the streets.

They wore elaborate costumes and watched the parades along St. Charles Avenue.

At midnight, police held a ceremonial clearing of Bourbon Street to symbolize the end of the season.

Carnival starts on Jan. 6 and includes parades in various parts of the city as well as other cities and towns along the Gulf Coast.

This year, Fat Tuesday was marred by a crash. In the Alabama beach town of Gulf Shores, police said a car accidentally plowed into a band, injuring 12 people.

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