The economic downturn could not overshadow the revelry of Mardi Gras today as partiers jostled for beads on parade routes and the French Quarter swelled with boozy fun and masked crowds. In fact, many revelers poked the recession in the eye, dressing in costumes riffing on the bailouts, the stimulus package and busted budgets. The weather was expected to be mild, with temperatures in the 60s and the skies sunny.
Big crowds over the weekend and nearly full hotels bode well for a busy Mardi Gras. Visitors bureau spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig said officials were cautiously optimistic because of the slumping national economy. Tourism officials hope to match last year’s crowd of about 750,000. Before Katrina, Fat Tuesday typically brought in about 1 million people.
There was a shooting after Friday’s parades, and police said there was another shooting about 6 a.m. Tuesday near Bourbon Street. Still, police said the celebration was mostly peaceful. “Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and not making trouble for anyone else,” spokesman Bob Young said.