Although New Orleans is still recuperating from massive wind and flood damage wreaked during and after Katrina, Mardi Gras celebrations continue, as festive as ever. As usual, the celebrities chosen to ride on floats during the larger and more elaborate parades include some familiar Hollywood names. On Sunday night, actor James Gandolfini will be riding in the Bacchus parade. On Monday night at Orpheus, a newer parade that was founded by Harry Connick, Jr., you can see Connick and actress Patricia Clarkson (Good Night and Good Luck, All the King's Men). Connick's dad was the district attorney of New Orleans, and Clarkson's mom has been a New Orleans city council member.

Not only are stars riding on floats, but you never know who else might pop into the Big Easy, especially with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt having moved there recently. Our sister site Blogging New Orleans has composed a helpful (and very funny) guide of Mardi Gras essentials for visiting celebrities. Even if you're not a Hollywood star, if you're traveling to Fat Tuesday from California or New York, you might want to check out the list of what to bring. Personally, I give everyone the same advice for attending Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Wear comfy closed-toe shoes that you won't cry over if they get covered in trash, mud, stale beer, and unspeakable bodily fluids.