JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The excitement of the 2012 carnival season reaches a crescendo Tuesday as South Mississippi prepares for the biggest street party of the year. From float riders to parade-goers, they all want to be decked-out for Fat Tuesday.
For many stores, Mardi Gras means money. On Lundi Gras, they have been busy selling everything from sparkling beads to baked goods.
Outside Coast Mardi Gras Outlet, a pallet of beads was loaded onto a truck, bound for a Hancock County casino. Inside, shoppers packed the store in search of unique trinkets and toys.
"That's too cool," one shopper commented as she held up a Lady Bug Bobble Bead.
This is the first full carnival season for the Jackson County business and the owner said Lundi Gras has been busy.
"We got a lot of last minute people coming in riding for Fat Tuesday right at the end," said Leonard Cooper Jr. "We have a lot of people down, tourists down here on vacation, enjoying their first Mardi Gras and buying knick knacks."
The Allens of Alabama picked up a few bags of beads.
"That one's good. See, it wiggles," said Susan Allen as she pointed to a rack of beads.
The couple and 18 members of the Millbrook Revelers come to South Mississippi every year to catch the parades and to shop.
"We're coming to get throws and get beads for next year for our Mardi Gras parade, so we'll have necklaces to wear for our ball in Millbrook," said Allen.
"Everything is just great! We're having a big time shopping," said her husband, Wayne Allen.
"This is kind of their Christmas for them. They save their money for it," said Cooper.
Over at Rouses in Gulfport, shoppers also spent money on traditional sweet treats.
"It's been tremendous. We sell, like, 200 a day right now," said Patricia Menefee, Bakery Department Manager.
An assembly line of workers filled, glazed, and sprinkled dozens of King Cakes with sugary goodness. They start baking at 7:00 AM and don't stop until 8:00 PM.
"It's been extremely busy, but we're loving it. This is the best season yet for us," said Menefee.
By satisfying their customers' cravings for carnival food and fun, stores hope to make a lot of dough this season.
"I love it. This is my time of year, this and Christmas. It's fun," said Menefee.
After Mardi Gras, stores hope to continue seeing a lot of "green." That's because they'll be gearing up for St. Patrick's Day parties and parades.