Mardis Gras 2013 arrives - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mardis Gras 2013 arrives

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Lisa Riddle, Albany Marathon Board Member Lisa Riddle, Albany Marathon Board Member
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

One of Albany's biggest weekends of the year is here. Tens of thousands of people are expected downtown Saturday for the Mardi Gras Street Festival. And thousands of out of town visitors are here for the annual Albany Marathon.

The race starts at 7:00AM, and because of high water from the Flint in Riverfront Park, it will finish in a new location, outside the Thronateeska Heritage Center. This will be the first time the city has used the new finish line, but runners shouldn't worry because this new route has been officially certified for Boston.

More than 1,400 runners are expected to cross this finish line.  "Basically tomorrow morning this area is gonna be packed with people. We're gonna have spectators, we're gonna have runners and we're gonna have volunteers," said Lisa Riddle, Albany Marathon Board Member.

Mars, Miller/Coors and other sponsors will be set up at the finish line along with a hospitality tent offering massages. Awards will also be handed out near the back of Roosevelt Avenue. While workers set up the finish line, vendors were getting ready for the 11th annual Mardi Gras festival.

The city shut down parts of Pine Street, Front street and Broad Avenue around noon for the setup but this year's festival will have 25 fewer vendors. "We downsized it because we were starting to get a lot of complaints about duplicating merchandise, and the vendors weren't making as much money," said Phil Cannon, Lead Organizer.

Cannon expects more than 40,000 people will make it out to this year's event --- about ten thousand fewer than last year. Cold temperatures are to blame for the expected drop in attendance -- but at least blankets will be ready for the runners once they cross the finish line.

Volunteers and spectators should dress heavy for Saturday and expect very chilly temperatures. People should also arrive early and park behind the fire station or the courthouse.

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