Fat Tuesday: How Much Does All That Partying Cost?

02/21/2012 02:19 pm ET

Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, may be celebrated by young and old, drunk and sober, but when it comes to economic impact, the celebration's moniker is no misnomer.

Between $144 million and $500 million will be injected into the New Orleans economy as a result of the revelry associated with Mardi Gras and its run-up Carnival, a much needed boost to a struggling region. A reaction to the Catholic period of penitence known as Lent, which begins Wednesday, Fat Tuesday debauchery can be technically limited to the day alone, but may stretch back as far as Thanksgiving.

All that partying adds up, as seen in the infographic below from, especially given all the items and costs associated with Fat Tuesday. Floats for the festival's many parades can cost up to $100,000 each, while partiers in New Orleans alone are estimated to sink $3.4 million buying liquored-up libations. That's not to mention the costs associated with beads, pancakes, King Cakes and some of the most spectacular costumes seen all year.

But the revelry isn't limited to just the Big Easy. Mobile, Alabama, for example, experienced a $225 economic impact from Mardi Gras in 2004, and since then the annual fete's only got fatter, with over a million visitors expected in the region each year. While no official study has been conducted, all that partying might just have a negative effect on the Gulf Coast region's productivity?

"I guess that's why they call it the Big Easy," Mark Rosa, a professor of business at New Orlean's Tulane University, told local radio WWL. "It seems like [Fat Tuesday's] momentum never breaks until, 'Ok, we really got to get back to work now.'"

See's infographic below below to find out just how fat Fat Tuesday really is:


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