KENNER, LA (WVUE) - Staff members at Armstrong International Airport held a miniature parade Friday to greet weary travelers with Carnival beads.
"This welcome was amazing. Like, I already feel the energy of Carnival, of Mardi Gras. You can totally feel it in the air," Camilla Biscarini said.
Friday marks the busiest travel day of Carnival season.
"We've got a lot of people coming in and outbound today. About 40,000 people with the New Orleanians who are leaving to go to Disney and go on ski trips, so a lot of families leaving, and a lot of families arriving for the whole Mardi Gras weekend," airport spokeswoman Michelle Wilcut said.
Many came from New York to experience their first Mardis Gras.
"It was 10 times better than what we expected because it's a family event," said Ruben Smith. "We saw children waiting for the floats, playing in the street. There's a spirit of camaraderie."
His favorite part was making new friends.
"We were next to a couple from Canada. I had a sign that said, 'A shoe for my wife,' and I did get a shoe. Then I passed the sign over to them, and they wrote, 'From Canada,' and they got a shoe also," Smith said.
Some who don't live here anymore returned for Carnival.
"I have a house in New Orleans, and I have a lot of friends staying. It's their first time to come to Mari Gras and they're very excited. We're going to a bunch of parties tonight. I'm riding in a parade tomorrow," Terri Polk said.
Travelers were left with a smile on their faces, and many are now ready for the big celebrations.