[Pensacola, FL] “It’s just another party,” said local Paul Damico. “You dress up a little, do what you want and let your hair down.” Sound like some crazy kid out for a blast? Damico is 71 years old. That’s what Mardi Gras does to people.
Pensacola isn’t New Orleans, but then again, NOLA doesn’t have exclusive rights to having a good time does it? In fact, Mardi Gras is celebrated all along the Gulf Coast. On Saturday, Feb. 18, photographer Alyssa Ollivierre captured the sights of just a single parade that made its way through Downtown Pensacola on an overcast day.
The weather did not put a damper on the festivities, by the look of things. Watch out for the beads.
This guy is having a good time. Note: that is his real hair
Although people generally associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, Mardi Gras celebrations happen all along the Gulf Coast in places like Mobile, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City Beach and Biloxi. Pensacola’s parade is known for a more family welcoming environment – in parts. There is an “adult” element, it is just kept separate.
License to kilt: Good thing it wasn’t too windy
“People think all we do is drink and have parties, but that’s only part of being in a krewe, and a fraction of the time at that,” said Lorie Roebuck, 34. What is a krewe? There are two definitions. One is, “Any of several groups with hereditary membership whose members organize and participate as costumed paraders in the annual Mardi Gras carnival.”
Now that is a float – a bar on wheels and a guy smoking a cigar throwing out beads
The second definition of a “krewe” is, “A group of civically oriented community members striving to have a fabulous time in life while bringing things mystical and magical to the lives of those around them.” That one sounds a little too Dungeons & Dragons or Harry Potter for me. For more info, visit krewecentral.com.
Organizers say that krewes are what make the parade.
Pedal power: This guy’s focus should be on solving the country’s energy needs
The best part of Mardi Gras? The price. “People still want to go out and have fun,” said Danny Zimmern, president of Pensacola Mardi Gras Inc. “This is a celebration for people to attend, and it’s free.”
The dry cleaner ruined this dude’s costume, sorry
The Pensacola area had not one, not two, but four parades: Krewe of Lafitte Illuminated Parade, Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade, Krewe of Wrecks Parade at Pensacola Beach and the Navarre Krewe of Jesters annual Mardi Gras parade.
This float must’ve stopped at every bathroom along the parade route
Mardi Gras is good for business: Heavenly Creations Bakery in Fairhope, Alabama, near the Florida border is extra-happy during the Mardi Gras festivities. Last year, it sold a whopping 1,500 traditional Mardi Gras “king” cakes.
“Mardi Gras is good for everyone,” said Heavenly Creations Bakery owner Robyn Yoder. “I think it brings more people downtown and it brings more people in. It’s a boost in sales and it does a lot for all of us, more tips for the girls who work, it’s good.”
Beads, beads, beads … but what’s with the helicopter?
Little bit of a factoid for you: According to the organizers, the Pensacola Mardi Gras Celebration recently grabbed “Best Parade” honors from IN magazine. It is part of the yearly contest called “Best of the Coast.” And that’s not all – the Southeast Tourism Society named the Pensacola Mardi Gras Celebration as one of the Top 20 Events.
This float is tremendous … the detail, the dolphins … that hat!
“It’s really grown,” said Zimmern. “It was pretty much just one weekend and a pub crawl on Fat Tuesday. Now, it’s expanded into a season starting with The Twelfth Night on Jan. 6.”
Seize the day … more like seize those wigs
Pensacola Mardi Gras, Inc., took over the Grand Mardi Gras Parade 10 years ago and their organizational efforts have made the event one of the best along the Gulf Coast. An estimated 5,000 people give up their John Hancock to participate in the grand parade.
The fold-out tents ruined the look of this float … or was it the half-assed plastic cover on the speaker?
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Images: Alyssa Ollivierre for Sunshine Slate
Pensacola Mardi Gras