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Culture, cocktails and Creole cuisine create New Orleans’ unique vibe By Megan Hill 78 New Orleans has two versions of Mardi Gras: the hard-partying Bourbon Street version and the lesser-known family-friendly variant that takes place in many other parts of the city. The latter was my Mardi Gras when I was growing up. It involved donning cos- tumes, chasing bouncy balls and stuffed animals thrown from floats, and perching on a parent’s shoulders to grab strings of pearlescent beads. Mardi Gras, which falls on February 28 a l a s k a b e yon d feb ruary 2017 ABM 02.17 Near & Far_New Orleans.indd 78 1/19/17 1:04 PM french quarter & par ade, gts productions / shutter- stock.com; cathedr al & market, SIME / eStock Photo; Let the good times roll