Last year Mardi Gras in the Hub City brought millions of dollars to the local economy. Business was booming and the revelers were cheering. However, this year it wasn't quite the same.
The Executive Director of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, Ben Berthelot compares the numbers using a 2010 study conducted by the University of Louisiana. He says hat during Mardi Gras Lafayette's population nearly doubles. "It also shows those folks enjoying Mardi Gras spend over $110 million in our community. That's the baseline we have to go off of in terms of Mardi Gras," says Berthelot.
Berthelot confirms what most people noticed on Tuesday. Attendance was lower than normal, which affects economic impact. Berthelot says what matters most remains the same. "Every year we put on the second largest Mardi Gras in the state. It's a safe and family friendly Mardi Gras and that certainly didn't change this year." Randall Mann is the festival chair for the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association. "We always hope for five beautiful days, but it never seems to happen. So we kind of hit the bullet this time with it raining on Monday and Tuesday."
In a couple of weeks - the association meets to assess what worked and what didn't. "People think Mardi Gras is this massive free party that just happens, but it really doesn't. It's a lot of volunteers that put in a lot of work and spend a lot of money for the marching bands and getting the floats ready," says Mann.