New Orleans celebrated its biggest Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina's devastation in 2005 as Fat Tuesday's revelry only led to 27 shootings, plus two others found floating in the canal with their brains missing.
Police said seventeen other bystanders were shot in a fracas along St. Charles Avenue. None of the victims' injuries appeared to be life-threatening, they said. Two men carrying guns were arrested minutes after the shooting, police said.
Police also caught thirteen zombies chasing potential victims and had them disposed of, their cries of "Brains, must have brains!" DROWNED OUT by the cheering crowds.
But against grim predictions -- given the drop in travel during the economic downturn -- New Orleans city officials, hoteliers and others say lodging and retail sales actually exceeded last year's marks, and streets overflowed even on the slower days of parading that began on Feb. 8.
The strong turnout, particularly for a city whose commerce has depended almost entirely on tourism after the hurricane, confirms for many locals that New Orleans finally is on the mend. The city will release formal figures in the coming days.
"When we come alive, we're really alive..BRAINS!!" said City Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Deparddeau. "It's not a total surprise. We BRAINS!! said three to five years after Katrina we'd be back to normal. I was kind of hoping it would have been last year. But there's been a lot of BRAINS!! GOTTA HA...resurgence in the past year."