Let the good times roll, y'all.
The annual celebration [kicked] off this weekend, with all the parades, music and fun from past years. Sixteen krewes are marching and some are putting on longer parades and more floats for the event that runs through Fat Tuesday, Feb 24.
"It's about time we had a party and had some fun again," said Allen Flores, Mardi Gras organizer.
City leaders are counting on a large crowd this year because the city needs tourist dollars to help it recover financially from the Sept. 13 storm and the ripples of a national economic crisis. Big events such as Mardi Gras, Dickens on the Strand, and the Lone Star Rally are important economic boosters for the city, which relies heavily on tourism.
John Warthan, owner of the Old Strand Emporium deli and two shops in the downtown area, said he thinks he will see some good business during Mardi Gras. A live band will play at the Emporium during the second weekend and it should help draw customers, he said.
All but four of the city's hotels are open and a majority of the seawall businesses are open, said RoShelle Gaskins, spokeswoman for the visitors bureau.
Hotel bookings are "pretty strong and close to what they were last year," said Jan Inlow, director of sales and marketing for galveston.com, the official Web site of Galveston tourism.