Albany leaders are pleased with how weekend activities showed off the city. An estimated 25,000 people came downtown for the Mardi Gras street party and marathon.
40 vendors and thousands of people filled these streets Saturday. Planners say all the good times could attract more business to Albany.
Perfect weather welcomed 1,400 runners across this finish line. "Our goal is to be the best small city marathon in America," said Rashelle Beasley, CVB Director. Albany's edging toward that honor, especially after 20% of full marathon runners qualified for the Boston Marathon.
"Usually we'll stay within the top 10 Boston Qualifiers for races around the United States," Beasley said.
Thousands of visitors bring opportunity. "Great for the businesses downtown. The aquarium, all the attractions we had here. The venders that came out to Mardi Gras did pretty well, and so everybody was happy when they left," said Tommy Gregors, Thronateeska Executive Director.
Others could bring new industries to Albany. "One of the runners that gave us feedback, he is actually a recruiter for a company. So when you think of people running in a race like that, you never know when you have a CEO of a company who's looking to expand," Beasley said.
She says community support played a central role. "There was an intersection where the traffic was backed up, people were trying to get to work, and instead of being impatient, and they were literally getting out of their cars and cheering on the runners."
Now, planners are already gearing up for next year. "Adding bands, changing up, adding kid's activities. Again, it's just whatever we can do to help downtown," said Gregors.
The Southern charm of the Good Life City, he says, will greet visitors back in 2015. 1,700 volunteers welcomed runners at 16 different water stations. Organizers say volunteers also played a central role in the festival. Proceeds from the events will benefit local organizations and be used for next year's celebrations.
WALB manned one of those water stations right outside our building, and as always, We had a great time.