NEW ORLEANS -- The party is over, but at Armstrong International Airport Wednesday morning, many Mardi Gras visitors left happy and fulfilled.
"I had a wonderful time. I mean, the weather was good and the food was fantastic," said Toni Jackson from Little Rock, Ark.
James Roache, a resident of Marlow Heights, Md., carried bags filled with throws.
"We had a good time coming down here. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event," he said.
With this latest carnival season now in the books, city leaders are calling it one of the biggest and best ever.
"I mean, simply stated, the Mardi Gras of 2012 rocked. It did. It was a major success," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Landrieu said the reasons are plentiful, and, as always, the festivities' impact on the local economy sits at the top of the list.
Officials said the final numbers for Mardi Gras 2012 aren't in yet, but they believe the overall total will surpass last year's estimate of $300 million.
"The city's 38,000 hotel rooms were nearly all full at nearly a 97 percent occupancy level. That's a historic number and it's incredible," Landrieu said.
Over the past few days, huge crowds partied on Bourbon Street and packedparade routes without any major hitches, officials said.
Landrieu praised the efforts the many public servants from numerous departments, as well as locals residents, in helping to pull off this massive event once again.
"The whole world was watching and I think the story they saw about New Orleans was, again, was a great symbol of a city that continues to be the story of resurrection and redemption," he said.