Fat Tuesday In New Orleans fattest in many years

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by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on February 17, 2010 at 5:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 17 at 6:17 PM

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans tourism leaders say this year's Fat Tuesday celebration may have been the fattest in many years.

Traditionally, trash has been good indicator of the success of Mardi Gras.

Sidney Torres heads SDT Waste & Debris, the company responsible for cleaning the French Quarter.

Torres said this year his crews picked, a lot more garbage off the streets compared to last year's Carnival celebration.

"Last year we were in the neighborhood of about 4500 tons," said Torres. "This year we will probably do almost double that."

Hotel occupancy is also a good barometer.

Tourism leaders say occupancy was in the high 90 percent this year.

Al Groos said his Royal Sonesta sold out for Mardi Gras and the days leading up to the big event.

"We were full every night which normally on Tuesday, there is a little bit of a falloff," said Groos. "There wasn't at all. The activities in the hotel were more than ever before."

Last night, NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley said this year's crowds were larger and better behaved than previous years.

"I don't know if it's the biggest ever, but certainly I would agree that it's larger than anything since Katrina," said Riley. "I would imagine that it's probably larger than I've seen in the last 25 years."

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman released a report showing that there were 1468 arrests during MardI Gras 2010. That's a drop of 31 percent from the 2125 arrests during last year's celebration.

According to a study by a pair of Tulane University professors, Last year's Mardi Gras celebration had a direct economic impact in New Orleans of $145.7 million and an indirect impact of $322 million.

Professor Toni Weiss said the impact will likely grow this year. She cautions that the Super Bowl may skew the numbers.

"We had a whole lot of people who came into town the first weekend of Mardi Gras because of the Super Bowl," said Weiss. "I think it would be impossible, I think to separate the two. But, what we can see is for following years, do we have increased crowds coming into New Orleans for Mardi Gras as a result of the success of this year."

Still, most people in the know call this year's Carnival success, encouraging.

"I've never seen so much garbage and so much trash," said Torres. It's just been unbelievable.

"I think we're seeing a new energy in New Orleans and I think it will continue," said Groos.

 

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