Brees leads major New Orleans Carnival parade

One of the most accurate arms in the NFL had no trouble finding

receivers Sunday night.

Thousands lined the streets to catch small, foam footballs

thrown by Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees while he served as monarch of

Bacchus, one of the biggest parades of the Carnival season that

culminates in Mardi Gras.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback threw 10,000 black and gold

footballs, along with the usual beads and doubloons, from his perch

atop the float that was desined to look like a Roman chariot. Brees

dressed as the Roman god of wine in a short gold and red tunic,

gold boots and cape and a crown of gold grape leaves.

A cadre of police officers and parade officials had to accompany

Brees from the limo that dropped him off at his float. He was

accompanied by his wife, Brittany, who wore a white gown and gold

crown. An eager crowd chanted his name and the familiar “Who Dat”

cry of Saints fans.

The usual Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold were

replaced along the parade route with the black and gold of the

Saints jerseys worn by thousands.

“I missed the Saints parade,” said Henry Exterstern, 50, of

New Orleans. “No way I was going to miss him this time.”

It was the second parade this week for Brees, after the Super

Bowl victory parade Tuesday that celebrated the Saints’ win over

the Indianapolis Colts a week ago.

Sunday’s parade appeared to get an attendance boost from the

presence of Brees.

“This is a mad house,” said Jennifer LeBlanc, 34, who said she

sees the parade every year. “This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever

seen. And every one is having a great time.”

Brees began throwing the beads and footballs as soon as he

boarded the float, giving a thumbs up to people who caught

them.

As the float began to move, Brees took the microphone and

chanted, “Who Dat, Who Dat.”

“We love you New Orleans,” he shouted. “Hail Bacchus.”

The final weekend of Carnival saw dozens of parades roll

throughout the New Orleans area. Another huge parade, Orpheus, is

scheduled for Monday. More parades will roll on Tuesday, or Mardi

Gras, when businesses will also be closed and the French Quarter

and the parade routes will be crowded with revelers.

It all comes to a close at midnight Tuesday as police clear

Bourbon Street and the heavily Catholic city welcomes Lent.