If you have traveled up and down the seawall in the past couple of days, you couldn’t miss the annual pilgrimage of vehicles parking along the roadway in preparation for the event.
Trucks, campers and vehicles of all sorts dot the parking spaces along Galveston’s beach front thoroughfare.
Last week, Mainland Mardi Gras kicked off the season with fun and festivities. This week the party moves to the island.
This year, the annual pre-Lenten celebration will run from today to Feb. 13. And while there will be parades along the Galveston seawall, a bulk of the events will be held in the historic downtown district.
And while access to certain events will require a fee, there are plenty of other opportunities for everyone to get their hands on a string of beads or two.
And, as we always do, we should take this time to remember and thank local civic and community leader George Mitchell for his vision of bringing this event roaring back to life. His grand imagination changed the landscape of Galveston forever. Who can drive down Mechanic Street without feeling a childlike excitement at seeing the final remaining archway outside the Tremont House? His legacy will forever affect Galveston.
Now a word about the festivities: Hundreds of thousands of people will visit over the Mardi Gras season. For locals, this means new faces in line at the grocery store or walking down the crowded sidewalks. Let’s remember these are invited guests and are here to experience an event as only Galveston can do.
Let’s also remember they are an important part of our local economy. Many small businesses staff up or bring in special inventory for this event. The economic benefit is powerful from hotels to boutiques.
As for our visitors who may be reading this, we invite you to remember the Galveston community is home to nearly 50,000 people who live, work and go to school here. We are so much more than beautiful beaches, historic homes and festivals.
Take time to get to know us. Ask questions, poke your heads into our local shops, and know we are excited to have you here. Take in our culture, our traditions, and even our quirkiness.
Here’s to a safe and fun Mardi Gras season.
• Leonard Woolsey