NEW ORLEANS — Mardi Gras madness is in full swing in Uptown New Orleans with the annual rush to stake a claim on the St. Charles Avenue neutral ground.

There are tents, ladders, chairs and tarps as far as the eye can see, marking the best spots to watch a full slate of Carnival parades from now through Fat Tuesday.

"The early bird gets the worm," parade watcher Bruce Richards said. "You come out here and you set up and you enjoy the parade with family and friends."

Some folks setting up on the streetcar track complained about people gobbling up too wide a swath of the public's right of way. 

Loren Bartholomew pointed to a large white tent not far from her parade viewing spot.

"This has been up all night," Bartholomew said. "This obstruction has been here ever since the parades started. It's just insane," she said as she pointed to the tent. 

Ed Campbell told WWL-TV he sets up that tent every year for family and friends.

There is hay on the ground, tables for food and drink and even a sound system in the tent.

"You could look down that way to Napoleon and that way as far as the eye can see and people are claiming land, people put tarps down, people put tents up," Campbell said. "It's in a way, New Orleans culture."     

So, what are the rules along the parade route?

According to the city charter, only those pop up, shade-type tents ,10 feet by 10 feet or less are permitted.

No fully enclosed tents with side panels are allowed.

Technically, you are not allowed to leave any tents, ladders or other items on the neutral ground, curb and sidewalks overnight.

Bruce Richards said until now, that last rule has not been vigorously enforced by the city.

"As long as you're here 24 hours you can leave your stuff on the site," Richards claimed. "They changed that as of yesterday to (being able to set up) 2 to 3 hours (before a parade) which is kind of news to everyone along the route, but we'll roll with the punches and do what we can."

If you plan to leave anything on the streetcar track over night, attended or unattended, do so at your own risk.