Officials in New Orleans say they expect Mardi Gras 2011 to attract the largest crowds to the city since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
A historically late end to Carnival Season provides a unique situation for New Orleans. Fat Tuesday 2011 falls on March 8, the latest date for the holiday in over 150 years.
The resulting combination of warm weather and party-seeking spring breakers is sure to provide an influx of first-time revelers. During a typical celebration, nearly 1 million people pack the streets of the city.
A 2009 study from Tulane University estimated that Mardi Gras generated nearly $322 million for the New Orleans' economy. City officials are optimistic that they will surpass that number this year.