Mardi Gras isn't just a single day – Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent – but a nearly entire month of festivities. It all starts on Twelfth Night, January 6, when the city becomes obsessed with eating, costuming, bead-tossing and parading, which all increase in intensity as Ash Wednesday nears. All weekends leading up to Fat Tuesday see parades roll all over town. Bands, marching groups, oats, and costumed riders toss beads and other accessories to the crowds. The celebration is also child-friendly: the Uptown parade route and suburban parades are entirely family oriented.