Southern hospitality can take the chill off


Albany is hosting a lot of visitors on this chilly morning as the annual Snickers Marathon Bar Marathon and the Mardi Gras weekend brings thousands of people downtown.

As of Friday, race organizers were expecting more than 1,400 participants in the marathon and half-marathon, which has been rerouted somewhat to accommodate a Flint River swollen from heavy rains that were experienced throughout the state in February. In Albany, we had 16.37 inches, one of the heaviest months on record.

Last year, 1,365 runners completed the marathon and half-marathon, which gets under way at 7 a.m., when forecasters expect the temperature to be a near-freezing 33 degrees.

It'll be about 10 degrees warmer when the first band hits the stage in the cordoned off area of Front Street and Pine Avenue as downtown launches into its Mardi Gras festival.

We can't do much about the chill, but we can go out of our way to make sure the hundreds of visitors who are in town this weekend feel welcomed and appreciated. And anyone in tourism will tell you that a good experience is the biggest factor in those visitors returning.

Perhaps more than anything else, this special weekend demonstrates the potential downtown has. And to those who worked so hard all year round to make this event a success, we say thank you. Your efforts go a long way toward creating a positive image for Albany and its downtown area.

And for those of you who are participating in the events today, taking in the festival entertainment, or just passing through and stopping to see what's going on, we say welcome to the Good Life City at its best. We hope you have an enjoyable time, the kind that will make you want to come back next year ... or better yet, next week.

We can't do anything about the chill, but we hope a good dose of old-fashioned Southern hospitality will leave our visitors with a warm feeling about Albany.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board