Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS - The spirit of Carnival was infectious Uptown Friday night, with the Krewes of Hermes, d'Etat, and Morpheus hitting the streets.

'It's just so much fun, exactly what you see here, all our family and friends together, eating, drinking, hanging out having a good time,' said Ashley Bateman, who rides in the Krewe of Muses.

It's also a good time for those behind the scenes. Travis Breaux has been driving the the tractors that pull the floats for 12 years.

'It's like a blessing for me to do this,' said Breaux, who works for Ducote Designs, a float building company. 'To ride down the streets and see the kids happy, want the beads and everything, I love it, I love it.'

Thousands lined the parade route to kick off the biggest weekend of Carnival. Tourists said they're already blown away.

'I'm from San Fran-silliness, I mean San Francisco, and from when I was a kid I'd always heard about Mardi Gras and was always fascinated by it,' said Kenny the Clown, also known as Kenneth Kaan.

'A lot of colors, a lot of floats, a lot of crazy people, just New Orleans,' said Lisa Faucett, of Melbourne, Fla.

Float builder Barry Kern says so far, the crowds have been larger than he's ever seen.

'I think Saturday, Sunday and into Mardi Gras day are going to be a blockbuster,' said Kern, president of Kern Studios.

New Orleans police are indeed expecting record crowds, and want to make sure everyone is safe. With the number of officers at a historic low, they have brought in more state troopers than ever to help.

'You've got to look and say where are things happening, you don't have the manpower that you've had in the past, so why don't we put people where things are happening,' said State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson.

And for tourists and locals alike, this Carnival, as always, promises to be one to remember.

There have been parades in New Orleans every day since Wednesday, and they will last through Fat Tuesday.

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