NEW ORLEANS -- Thousands of basketball fans and Mardi Gras aficionados will descend on New Orleans this weekend, drawn downtown for both the start of Carnival season and the NBA All-Star Game. Law enforcement agencies say they're ready for the big crowds.
"It gives me a little sense of pause, but I feel very secure," said Laura Lytle, who is visiting from Cincinnati.
Just about everywhere you turn this weekend --- yellow vests and trooper hats aren't hard to spot. That is because they've increased. The NOPD, Louisiana State Police and other agencies are stepping up their presence on foot and at traffic intersections.
"Just like every other year. We have the 2014 NBA All-Star Game. It's kind of a like a small version of Mardi Gras," said Trooper Greg Marchand.
This weekend's warm-up to Mardi Gras means an extra 120 troopers. The NOPD says 300 officers and supervisors are moving to 12-hour shifts. Jefferson Parish is providing two sky towers for added security. Law enforcement agencies will also be increasing DWI checkpoints on highways and downtown. They'll be checking not only for drunk drivers, but weapons, drugs, and any signs of human trafficking.
"We take pride in letting people come to the state, come to the city and have fun and knowing they can do it safely," said Marchand.
It's New Orleans hospitality that brings back tourists like Mike Lytle who wanted his wife to experience her first kick of to Carnival season.
"New Orleans has rebounded well from Katrina. Its good to see it back. I was here six or seven years ago, its a big difference," said Lytle.