Mardi Gras key to Galveston's recovery

February 4, 2010 4:53:38 PM PST
There may be some help on Galveston's road to recovery from Mardi Gras partygoers. Galveston Island is preparing to celebrate the second Mardi Gras since Hurricane Ike and business owners say the next couple of weeks will be crucial. For Diane Cowart, Mardi Gras means survival. She opened Crow's Southwest Cantina on The Strand last year and this year is struggling to keep the customers and their cash coming in.

It is very important time of year for us, we need the business. Mardi Gras is an important part of our economy," said Cowart.

The Mardi Gras two-week event is projected this year to bring in $22 million in revenue for the area.

"This is the second largest event we have. The first is the Lone Star Motorcycle Rally. However, Mardi Gras brings in people who stay and spend money and the economic impact is bigger than the Lone Star rally because people come here and spend money on the island and stay in our hotel rooms," said Roshelle Gaskins of the Galveston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

During the two week period, parades march down The Strand and throughout Galveston onto the seawall. The expected tourism dollar will impact a tax base that is still down from Ike. To add to the attraction, the various Krewe do their part by having plenty of the coveted beads.

"I think for the island, Mardi Gras is essentially, especially just two years after Ike. We need the party. I think loads of people will be at the parade," said Cynthia Thomson of the Krewe of Gambrinus.

Mardi Gras in Galveston includes 11 parades and more than 50 galas and festive events. It begins Friday, February 5, and runs until Fat Tuesday on February 16.