NEW ORLEANS — Alabama made news with its good-natured dig at New Orleans — billboards touting Mobile as the home of America’s original Mardi Gras celebration.

The billboards near New Orleans and in south Mississippi tell motorists how close they are to “America’s original Mardi Gras.”

On Thursday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu responded.

“That was then and this is now,” Landrieu told a laughing crowd before cutting the ribbon at a renovated historic courthouse.

Asked if he was conceding Mobile’s claim to be first, Landrieu laughed and said it’s irrelevant, since “There’s only one great Mardi Gras in the world.”

Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 13 this year. In New Orleans, the Mardi Gras season is kicking into high gear with the first of the city’s major parades set for Friday night.

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