From King Cake to Krewe Kings to Kevin Costner, Features Everything Revelers Need to Know About the Carnival Season

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ — The City of New Orleans is once again preparing for the influx of tourists and locals who hit the streets Feb. 5 for Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. The event also draws millions of people to the Internet as they make their travel and party plans.

While visitors to New Orleans may make Bourbon Street in the French Quarter their first stop, online visitors will want to make theirs. The site provides everything from survival tips for revelers to Mardi Gras-related lesson plans for grades K-12.

There’s even a dictionary, with entries such as “king cake” — a pastry with a plastic doll hidden inside; the person who finds the doll is crowned “king” and buys the next cake or throws the next party. Nearly 500,000 king cakes are consumed in metro New Orleans during the Carnival season.

For those who enjoy celebrity-spotting, this year’s Mardi Gras will have plenty to gawk about. Helio Castroneves (two-time winner of the Indy 500 and recent winner, with partner Julianne Hough, of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”) will have a new partner for Mardi Gras as he teams with Salt-n-Pepa as co- Grand Marshals of the Krewe of Orpheus. Hollywood actor and director Kevin Costner will reign as Endymion, and pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, host of the relaunched “American Gladiator,” will reign as this year’s Bacchus.

“Mardi Gras is just one of the many traditions that have contributed to the romance and lore of New Orleans,” said the city’s mayor, Ray Nagin. “On Mardi Gras day, New Orleans puts its lust for life on parade. But you will also find that every day is cause for celebration in a city that is imbued with the Carnival spirit.”

More details about Mardi Gras 2008 — including parade routes, lodging recommendations and even instructions on how to build a float — are available now at – “The Information Source for the Gras!” Also featured on the sire are colorful pictures of last year’s celebration, Cajun recipe ideas and decorating tips as a consolation prize for those who just can’t make it down to the Big Easy this year.