Muses parade kicks off big Carnival weekend

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Krewe of Muses, one of New Orleans' youngest, has become the unofficial kickoff to the city's big weekend leading to Fat Tuesday.

The 14-year-old, all-female crew of more than 1,000 rolled through the city Thursday. It's followed by days of star-studded parades, including Endymion (en-DEM-ee-un), Bacchus (BOCK'-us) and Orpheus, mega-krewes that lure thousands to the city.

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman Kelly Schulz says hotels are nearly at capacity for Saturday and Sunday, with high occupancy Monday and Tuesday.

Among Muses' floats and marching bands was a group of women carrying tall, T-shaped torches known as flambeaux (Flam-Boh). Calling themselves "Glambeaux," the women shimmied their way through the streets, paving the way for a new take on male-dominated Carnival tradition of more than 100 years.

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