Arlington native Joanna Smith, letft, and Caitlyn Nichol Thomas perform on the Broad Avenue stage during the downtown Mardi Gras Festival Saturday night.
ALBANY Albany's signature downtown festival welcomed more than 38,000 guests Saturday, organizers say, making it one of the best attended Mardi Gras festivals to date.
Phil Cannon, one of the three original founders of the event, said Monday that early estimates put the crowd between 38,000 and 39,000, which would make it the second-largest Mardi Gras in terms of attendance on record.
"We're really pleased with the turnout and hope everyone had a good time," Cannon said. "Nearly every one of the vendors said that they made money and would be back again, which is good for them, and we didn't have hardly any incidents, so I'm considering it a success."
Organizers were uncertain how the street festival and downtown block part would turn out after they were forced to move it from March 3 after heavy winds and rain moved through the area.
"I kept telling our people after we made the decision, we're only 50 percent through with this thing; that we had to wait and see how the weather was going to be Saturday, but thankfully everything worked out and it was a beautiful day," Cannon said.
The funds generated by the $5 admission fee will help pay for next year's event, Cannon said. The event grows in size and cost each year. The price tag on the 2012 Mardi Gras Festival was more than $50,000, he said.
For tourism officials, having 38,000 people, many of whom don't live in Dougherty County, in downtown Saturday was a boon to the local economy.
"It's a good thing because many of the vendors were staying in local hotels and the people who came here probably had to fuel up somewhere and likely spent money here, so yea it's good thing for Albany and the economy," Albany Convention and Visitor's Bureau Manager Rashelle Beasley said.