Galveston preps for Mardi Gras celebrations

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In past years, revelers who refused to leave were sometimes arrested and pepper sprayed. This year, police will try a different approach (KTRK)

The stage is being set in Galveston and in days the beads will be flying and the Mardi Gras party will be underway.

"The dog and cat parade was always my favorite," spectator Erika Langsjoen said.

"This will be our first Mardi Gras. We're headed to Kemah to get some decorations for our golf cart," Mae Thompson said.

Thousands will visit the island over the next two weeks. Controlling the crowd isn't always easy.

"I think sometimes alcohol consumption plays a big role in crowd mentality," Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto said.

Clearing the streets the final nights can be the biggest challenge. In past years, unruly revelers who refused to leave were sometimes arrested and pepper sprayed. It was a method criticized by some in the days following the celebration.

Chief Porretto says they've re-evaluated their approach. They will read the crowd and adjust appropriately, but this year they may use the mounted patrol first, followed by the street sweepers.

"An officer would move them along or have them moved out of the way because we're not going to run a piece of equipment and hurt somebody. That's not in the plan and we won't want to do that," Porretto said.

Crowd control officers with shields and helmets would be last.

It's an approach some Strand business owners support. Mike Dean is owner of four businesses including Yaga's Caf.

"I think some of the strategies of the sweep needed to be rethought. I think the city and police have done that and I think it's a great plan and it's going to work," Dean said.

The partygoers we found agree.

"I think it's a little more public friendly and you aren't as intimidated." Mae Thompson says, "I think it would move me right on down the road," Josh Roitberg said.
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