Organizer to public: Be nice during Mardi Gras

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- One of the organizers of the city's annual Mardi Gras event -- which will draw an estimated 50,000 people downtown this weekend -- says this is a good weekend to ramp up their notions of southern hospitality.

With large crowds and participants for both the Snickers Marathon Energy Bar Marathon and Bike Race streaming in from all 50 states and five different countries, Phil Cannon told participants in a downtown stakeholders meeting Wednesday that congeniality likely won't go unnoticed by the visitors.

"You don't know who you'll run into," Cannon told the group. "You could be standing there talking with a CEO of a major corporation who came to run in the marathon to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

"If he leaves with a good experience he may go back to his board room and say 'hey fellas, ya'll have been looking for a place to move? Well I just went to this great place in South Georgia."

Cannon took his "Be Nice" initiative to masses this week through editorial pieces in local media outlets.

As unlikely as that notion may sound, Cannon may not be far off.

At last year's event, the city garnered national attention with both races as trade media and other journalists covered the events and wrote stories and distributed photographs that were picked up in magazines and Web sites far and wide.

It's exposure that will keep many downtown businesses in the black, and the city as a whole in several economic development discussions.

If the city does benefit in terms of economic development from a boost of hospitality, some say it wouldn't be the first time.

Albany Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem has said publicly that the decision last year by executives at Coats & Clark to move their North American Distribution Center to Albany was a direct result of relationships built at the state's annual Georgia Quail Hunt.