MOBILE, Ala. - Mardi Gras celebrations are off to a modest start on the Alabama coast.
The weather was nice in Mobile this weekend, but area businesses people said the crowds were smaller than anticipated for the start of the revelry.
"This is my first Mardi Gras where the first two days have been really slow like this," Dawn McAleer, who works in a downtown bar, told WALA-TV.
McAleer thought crowds may have been smaller than normal because the Senior Bowl was held on Saturday at Mobile's Ladd Stadium.
Vendor Joshua Bear agreed with McAleer.
"The people love Mardi Gras, but they love football too," Bear said.
Jennifer English, who attended a parade with her sons, caught plenty of parade goodies and enjoyed the atmosphere.
"It was nice. Not too crowded. They enjoyed it. That's why we got so much," English said.
Mardi Gras celebrations are also held far inland. Several thousand people turned out for a parade Saturday in the central Alabama city of Prattville.
Kellie Cook, director of the city's department of parks and recreation, was all smiles as the caravan prepared to leave its staging area and begin its hour-long trek through the city.
"We have a great turnout," Cook said. "The weather cooperated with us - it's not as cold as we had anticipated - and the chili cook-off helped with the crowd. I'm very pleased."
Next weekend's festivities in Mobile will compete with the Super Bowl, which is being played Sunday in New Orleans.
Aside from Mobile in Mobile County, several cities in Baldwin County also hold Mardi Gras parades.
The busiest weekend of Mardi Gras in Mobile typically is Joe Cain Day, set for Feb. 10. The pre-Lenten celebration ends two days later with Fat Tuesday.