Carnival 2012 officially begins in The Big Easy

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Friday kicked off the 2012 Carnival season by presenting to the athletics directors of LSU and Alabama one of the signature king  cake pastries - a gooey, oval-shaped treat topped with purple, green and gold sugar.

The school officials and fans are in New Orleans for Monday night's BCS title game between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.

The Times-Picayune says Landrieu struggled to explain to Alabama's AD Mal Moore what Friday's annual Kings Day event - which featured Mardi Gras Indians and brass bands - would entail.

Landrieu says he told Moore, "You're going to see grown men dancing, laughing and crying - with lots of feathers on."

Carnival season culminates on Feb. 21, with Fat Tuesday

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)