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NEW ORLEANS – For Bubba Hampton, Mardi Gras isn’t just about the beads, doubloons, and partying. It’s a chance to build something unique for his grandchildren.

Hampton began constructing floats on wagons for his children when they were in school, and hasn’t stopped since, his daughter Amanda Bravender said.

“Now that we are all grown he continues the tradition for my children,” she said.

Hampton, who owns Lapalco Hardware in Harvey, pours his handyman skills and creativity into each unique creation.

This year, Hampton created a New Orleans Streetcar from scratch in only four days for his grandchildren, seven-year-old James, three-year-old Jonah, and one-year-old Joshua.

Past creations include a pirate ship, a Dr. Seuss inspired Cat in the Hat, and a huge elephant.

“The floats have gotten more elaborate over the years,” Bravender said. “I’m always blown away.”

Sometimes the best floats aren’t even in the parade.

For Hampton and his family, that’s true every year.