Mardi Gras Takes Over Galveston Island

Mardi Gras festivities start tomorrow and more than 300,000 people are expected to celebrate on Galveston Island over a two week period.

Mardi Gras Galveston is the third largest Mardi Gras celebration in the country, after New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

Leah Cast is with the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says there will be 38 parades, 20 balcony parties and multiple concerts between now and February 12th.

"This is the 102nd celebration of Mardi Gras Galveston. It's actually gone on since the early 1800s. They did have a short period of time during wars and different things during the early 1940s where they didn't have Mardi Gras. But then it was revived in the early 1990s and so this will be the 102nd celebration that we have here as a city-wide celebration."

With 101 Mardi Gras celebrations already under Galveston's belt, Cast says any Islander can answer just about any question visitors have about the festival.

Cast says all of the hotels on the island sell out for both weekends of the celebration and tourists flood local restaurants and shops.

"There's a lot of tourism revenue that is generated through hotels, but also just through the buzz of bringing exposure to Galveston, because a lot of people don't know nationally how big we are with Mardi Gras here in the south."

The City of Galveston hasn't done an official analysis of the economic impact of Mardi Gras, but Cast says it's the single biggest tourism event of the year.

There are a number of free events and parades, but general admission tickets to the official festival are $15.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...