PORTLAND — Just over 233,000 vehicles passed through the York plaza on the Maine Turnpike over the Labor Day holiday weekend, an increase of more than 5 percent compared to the same period last year.

Traffic was down last year due to a tropical storm that passed near Maine, turnpike officials said.

Overall, turnpike traffic is down from last summer. Traffic in 2011 is projected to be down 1.5 percent from 2010.

For several hours on Monday, the turnpike authority’s executive director, Peter Mills, waved to passengers at the York toll plaza while dressed in costume, first as a moose and then as a lobster.

Mills, who replaced long-time turnpike head Paul Violette earlier this year, was continuing a tradition begun by Dan Paradee, the former turnpike spokesman who died of cancer last November.

Also on Monday, toll workers in the southbound lanes handed out 15,000 magnets that looked like old-fashioned Maine post cards. The magnetic cards, which listed 20 fairs and festivals scheduled in Maine this fall and winter, cost the turnpike authority $1.13 each.