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Mardi Gras acts as homecoming party

The parades, the music and the costumes — Fat Tuesday had all the energy of a classic Mardi Gras. But this year it wasn't about the visitors. This was a homecoming party.

The Enclarde family needed today. Hurricane Katrina scattered them across six states. But they came back — many for the first time since the storm — to watch the parade at the exact spot they've met every year for a decade.

“We don't have homes. We don't have money,” says Barbara Enclarde-Duncan.“But we have each other. And this is a celebration of us.”

Up and down the route, lots of families with lots to worry about reuinited on familiar ground for a few hours — to celebrate, forget, or just pause to remember why they like it here.

And they know how to poke a little fun at themselves.

The Conrad family lived just blocks from the 17th Street Levee. Their home was destroyed, so this year their costume choices were no contest — the levee and two mini-storms.

“For the kids to dress up as little hurricanes, you know, helps them deal with it,” says Marianne Maumus-Conrad. “We just, we needed to have Mardi Gras.”

The Conrads are rebuilding and they say their neighborhood will be back.

All of the Enclardes say they, too, will be coming home.

“Oh yes, everybody will be here next year,” says Wayne Enclardes. “I guarantee.”

Why does Bernadette Encalarde-Porschethink everybody's coming back?

Because, she says, “There's no place like home.”