NEW ORLEANS — Families camped out from early morning to catch beads and stuffed animals thrown from float riders. Revelers took to the streets in elaborate or funny costumes evoking Marie Antoinette, President Donald Trump and glamorous vampires. And amused bystanders took in the chaotic scene from lawn chairs.

Carnival season started Jan. 6 and comes to a close Fat Tuesday with festivities throughout New Orleans. Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, a period of reflection and restraint after the days of parades, parties and revelry.

Throngs of people were on the median for the final day of Mardi Gras, cooking up crawfish and red beans and rice. Others had set up ladders for their kids to sit on and catch beads and throws from the passing Zulu parade, one of two main parades that take to the streets on Fat Tuesday.

Joseph Rhyans moved to Houston in 2002 but tries to come back every year. This time he'd brought two of his kids, one of whom was sitting on a ladder catching bobbles from the passing Zulu parade.

"It's a family thing down here. That is what Mardi Gras is all about. Teach the kids and they will come back every year," he said.

Families usually pack up and go home after the parades are over although celebrations in the French Quarter extend into the late evening before police do a ceremonial clearing of the streets at midnight.

Two shootings near the traditional Mardi Gras parade route left three people wounded, New Orleans Police said. The first shooting happened about 3:15 p.m. Deputy Superintendent Paul Noel said one man was shot in the head and is in critical condition. Another, a juvenile boy, was shot in the leg and is in stable condition.

Police Chief Michael Harrison said a second shooting happened during a fight that broke out. A man who police believe was shot twice was rushed to the hospital. His condition is unknown.

Carnival season draws about 1 million visitors and pumps about $840 million into the city's economy, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. It also means two weeks of 12-hour, no-vacation shifts for the city's police, who are reinforced by 165 state troopers and officers and deputies from half a dozen nearby areas.