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Your tax dollar$ at work: Coast Guard helping to protect Mardi Gras | (UPI) -- Even the U.S. Coast Guard is helping out with security during this year's Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The New Orleans Times-Picayune says bright orange helicopters, owned by the Coast Guard, have been patrolling from the skies in downtown sectors of the city and over parade routes. By the way, the New Orleans Police Department does not own its own helicopter.

The overflights were begun at the request of local police officials.

One official tells the newspaper the move was simply to make a "show of force," to let possible wrong-doers know that security is in place.

Assisting in the overflights is a helicopter operated by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department. All of the choppers involved in the Mardi Gras surveillance have high-powered searchlights.

The Coast Guard helicopter force in New Orleans is no stranger to providing security. It often is called on to assist when the president or other federal officials are in the city.

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