Police say the 2016 Mardi Gras Season was a record breaker.
“We had a record year in terms of attendance, a record low in terms or arrests or incarceration,” said Mobile Police Chief James Barber.
Mobile Police estimate 1,172,000 people attended parades over the 12 days of Mardi Gras. Just 106 arrests were made all of Mardi Gras season. Only six were felonies. That’s one arrest for every 11,056 parade goers.
City officials say safety and bigger crowds go hand in hand. Plus, a safer Mardi Gras helps the city market the event to tourists
“When we start talking about family friendly, you want to see a family, you want to see the family unit there and being able to promote the city because of the increase in attendees certainly helps us,” said Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
The mayor says the on-going revitalization of downtown is also a big part of having larger, better behaved crowds.
“It absolutely does,” he said. “There more opportunity there is that we have for more restaurants, and the less vacant buildings you have, it all adds to it.”
The mayor and the police chief say having more officers out, and more strategically placed, has dramatically cut down on trouble at the parades.
“In deploying resources in the areas we know that we tend to have issues, had a preventative effect in terms if disorderlies and incidents that may involve a situation where we have to make an arrest,” Barber said. “We had a lot of intelligence, a lot of preventative stuff that we took before the MG season started to engage people that we thought were coming down to create trouble as well as a lot of undercover surveillance in the areas.”
132,000 attended Fat Tuesday parades. Joe Cain Day drew a crowd of 118,798 people. 114,200 people watched Saturday night’s Mystics of Time parade.
Dry weather and the overlap with Senior Bowl crowds likely were other factors in this season’s record crowd.