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Southern Decadence celebrates storm-free weekend

New Orleans, La. - A few gray clouds loomed overhead but nothing could dull the colorful displays at Southern Decadence.

The event celebrated its 42nd year in New Orleans, packing streets and popular spots in the French Quarter.

"We would like to welcome everybody, the citizens of New Orleans, people that come in and spend money in our city, we want to welcome everyone to the city of New Orleans," says "Tami", one of the Grand Marshals for the parade.

A lot of money will be spent in New Orleans through the end of labor day weekend.

According to the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, Southern Decadence has a $100 million economic impact on the city and surrounding area.

"Last night, the hotel survey that we did showed an occupancy of about 90 percent," says Kelly Schulz of the CVB. "We think it's even grown and we'll probably sell out the city for this weekend."

Two travel websites, Priceline and Orbitz, named New Orleans as one of the top ten places to visit Labor Day weekend.

That means a lot to the CVB when you look back on this day over the last eight years.

The Southern Decadence parade has been canceled at least three times in it's history, including exactly five years ago when Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana.

Katrina canceled all the festivities in 2005.

2011 brought Tropical Storm Lee and last year, Hurricane Isaac.

"Last year we didn't do the official parade because of the storm but we did a bar crawl so everyone did get to participate, which was quite an honor," says Tami. "I know it was a little bit smaller, but this year they said there's over 150,000 people in the city of New Orleans and we're quite honored to be a leader for everyone."

And the city hopes to be a leader in the gay and lesbian community when it comes to vacation destinations.

On Sunday, the Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a new ad campaign in the 13 states that allow same-sex marriage, inviting newlyweds to honeymoon here.

Tourism officials say there's so much to celebrate on this official end of summer.

"Many people wondered if New Orleans would ever be a popular visitor destination, be able to welcome big conventions and special events again," says Schulz. "We've done that and we've gone so far beyond what anyone expected."

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