How do you measure the impact of Mardi Gras? Is it the bags full of beads you store in your attic and then give away? Is it the sore arm and hoarse throat you have on Ash Wednesday? Is it the huge economic impact Fat Tuesday and all the events leading up to it bring to your community?

Let's take a look at that last one, the economic impact. Mardi Gras isn't just a New Orleans thing. It's a Louisiana thing and communities throughout the state benefit greatly from Mardi Gras Parades, festivals, balls, and visitors.

A recent story from KPLC TV in Lake Charles estimated that in Southwest Louisiana the impact of carnival season would add more that $16 million in revenue to the community. A report from the Lafayette Daily Advertiser suggested that amount would be even larger for the Hub City.

In New Orleans, it was estimated that all the revelry, parades, and celebrations brought in about $ 465 million to the city and surrounding area in 2014. That's a lot of tourists and that's a lot of taxes that you and I are going to benefit from. Unless you're in health care or higher education because our state legislature has determined those two things to be unworthy of funding.

This economic impact comes in the form of meals purchased in restaurants and hotel rooms rented by guests. It also comes locals who are spending money for Mardi Gras ball gowns, beads, trinkets, and maybe just a little bit of booze.

If you consider the fact that some 300 - thousand people will attend Mardi Gras parades in Lafayette and countless thousands of others will attend celebrations in other communities like Church Point, Mamou, and Kaplan it's a really big deal.