NEW ORLEANS -- What began as a small costume party amongst close friends in 1971 has become one of the top five tourist events annually in the city.
Southern Decadence draws more than 180,000 revelers, predominantly gay and lesbian, and generates about $218 million dollars per year.
“New Orleans is historically known as a tolerant, diverse place and people know that about the city and they continue to come here for that experience,” said Kristian Sonnier with New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau communications office. “This one just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
According to Sonnier, the annual event runs non-stop in the French Quarter for six days over the Labor Day weekend.
When the numbers are in, Sonnier expects them to be high, despite the recent tragic event at a lesbian and gay nightclub in Orlando where a man shot and killed several participants.
“We'll have data on attendance in a couple of weeks,” said Sonnier. “From everything that we can tell, projections and the crowds that I saw yesterday, we don't think that it's tapering off at all.”
Hotels are running at 90 percent capacity. Business is steady at local restaurants and tourist shops. Those attending said it's living up to the hype as New Orleans’ largest gay street fair.
(© 2016 WWL)