GALVESTON -- Saturday saw a non-stop party on Galveston Island with the annual Mardi Gras tradition.

Officials say attendance has been up this year, while Galveston police say arrests have been down.

Last weekend there were more than 200,000 visitors to the island. This weekend is expected to surpass that.

On Saturday night, a parade stretched from the Seawall to The Strand.

Gary Cobb was visiting from Austin and wore several strands of beads.

This is my third round of them, Cobb said. He estimates he collected at least 100.

The celebration has drawn all kinds of people including George Mitchell, who is credited with helping to revive the festival decades ago.

Mitchell was asked why he thinks the event keeps growing. I think a lot of the crowd is just more enthused by it, he said.

Throughout the two week event, The Strand has been one of the best places for people watching. It looks like a slice of Bourbon Street.

We wouldn t miss it for anything, Elizabeth Thornton of Galveston said.

For her family, the celebration is more than a tradition.

We re from New Orleans originally, so it s kind of in our blood, she said. And we re just having a really good time.

Celebrations continue through Fat Tuesday, with three more parades scheduled for Sunday.

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