NEW ORLEANS,, 12 February 2004 /PRNewswire/ — Feb. 12 – As if hobbits didn’t have enough excitement this year, now they are planning to take over New Orleans during Mardi Gras! Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan, stars from the hit movie “The Lord of the Rings,” will be throwing “precious” things to the crowds as part of the 147th celebration of Fat Tuesday in New Orleans. Wood is set to reign as King Bacchus 2004, while Monaghan will rule as Celebrity Monarch over the Krewe of Orpheus.

Frodo and his friend Merry won’t be the only stars in town for the celebration. Country music artists LeeAnn Rimes and Brad Paisley will also reign over the festivities. Rimes will be the Grand Marshall of the The Krewe of Endymion, the largest parade during Carnival with over 1,000,000 people lining its route. Paisley, Harry Connick, Jr. and New Orleans’ own Neville Brothers are other celebrities scheduled for performances.

Over a million tourists and locals are expected to line the streets to see the stars and to participate in the numerous festive happenings scheduled around this hedonistic event. Several lavish balls and over 59 parades are scattered throughout the city, all leading up to February 24, which is Mardi Gras Day.

When asked about Mardi Gras, or the “Greatest Free Show on Earth,” New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said with enthusiasm, “When the marching bands kick in, you won’t be able to keep your feet still. When float riders taunt you with beads, you won’t be able to stop screaming, `Throw me something, Mister!”

This year, people worldwide will access the Internet to learn about the traditions and culture surrounding this holiday and to see live broadcasts of these exciting parades and events. Details about Mardi Gras 2004, including parade routes, recommendations on lodging, and informational videos are available now at Also available 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.

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