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Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 12:14pm

Mardis Gras Lifts Tybee Off-Season

Street parties and costume balls are luring visitors to two relatively new festivals on Tybee Island.

Their goal is to fill hotels in otherwise dreary months.

February can be cold and rainy -- not beach weather at all.

But for the last three years, Tybee Island has built a following around Mardis Gras.

And it's not the only city to catch on to the holiday.

Albany started a successful Mardis Gras nine years ago and coastal St. Marys has had one for 14 years.

Tybee festival organizer Paul DeVivo says, the festival brings visitors in the off-season.

"I do know that several of the lodging places are full," DeVivo says. "Several other that I've spoken with tell me that they're very close to being full."

Seven years ago, Tybee Island started a Pirate Festival in October, another off-month.

Columbus has had a Pirate Festival for five years.

The events are heavy on costumes but their success depends on the off-seasons' iffy weather.

"If we have a pretty have a good, pretty weekend, people come out to the beach and walk the beach and visit the shops and that type stuff," DeVivo says. "So, it's really weather-driven."

The weekend forecast looks for Friday and Saturday, worse for Sunday.

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