Galveston Mardi Gras kicks off

February 14, 2009 4:25:17 PM PST
A big celebration is underway in Galveston and shop owners are hoping the influx of people for Mardi Gras will help the economy rebound.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Galveston's road to recovery is taking an important step following Hurricane Ike. Nearly five months have passed since the storm ravaged the coast and business owners in Galveston hope the crowds for the Mardi Gras celebration will bring in the money.

It wasn't hard to find people having a good time at Mardi Gras, but what concerns some is the number of people at the party.

The beads are back and the people are as eager as ever to grab them, but on this first Mardi Gras weekend, the crowds seem a bit light.

"I think it's going OK. Just OK," said Kelly Dietrich.

She's been coming to Mardi Gras in Galveston for 16 years. This year her friend's clothing shop is closed as are several other strand businesses, but Dietrich said it's still important to hold this party.

"Galveston needsto come back. We just need to be Galveston again," said Dietrich.

A few of the strand balconies are open for business. The SOB Krewe is doing its part to rev up the crowds and get the party started.

"Galveston suffered a lot from the storm and the strand suffered a lot, but we are doing our part to get things back," said Gus Campos of the SOB Krewe.

In fact, less than half the strand businesses are open. While the city says it can afford to pay for police officers, firefighters and cleanup crews, some party planners ran out of time and money to order new beads. They're using some from last year.

Inside the stores, sales are slow right now but should pick up.

"More stores opening up down here will be a big help and just spring time getting here," said store manager Todd Flores.

Most retailers are optimistic about how they will fare this year but they add more needs to be done to get the crowds back in bigger numbers.

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