This past weekend kicked off the first parades and has set the mood. Everyone’s in the Mardi Gras spirit. Carnival music’s playing on the radio. Front doors are decorated with colorful wreathes. Huge strings of Mardi Gras beads hang from the trees and drape over porch balconies. Houses are dressed in their finest green, purple and gold. Bakeries fill the air with the smell of thousands of king cakes made every day for locals and out-of-towners. In the neighborhoods, music and marching rings the air as high school bands practice for the parades.