Perfect weather brings out large crowd for Pensacola’s Grand Mardi Gras parade

By Allison Bew
Staff Writer

Thousands of Pensacolians struggled to find parking downtown Saturday for the Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade. With a high in the mid-70s and not a cloud in the sky, the weather was perfect for catching beads and eating moon pies.

Mardi Gras, also known as “Fat Tuesday,” is Feb. 28, and Pensacola is more than ready to partake in the festive traditions.

The parades are one of the more famous traditions of Mardi Gras, which was first celebrated in the United States in Mobile, Alabama. Krewes get together and decorate their floats, put on costumes and throw beads and moon pies to the crowd.

Most krewes are societies that are organized specifically for parades, though there are some non-parading groups. While Mardi Gras might be the busiest time of year for krewes, they also participate in other parades year-round such as the Fiesta of Five Flags celebration and the Christmas parade.

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Photos by Allison Bew.

Carmela Miller is one of the founders of the Krewe de Carpe Diem. Krewe de Carpe Diem was founded in 2003 and has been participating in parades ever since.

“There is no real process when it comes to joining, but we like to keep it small,” Miller said. “We just want to have a good time. It is for the celebration of Mardi Gras, but it is also the celebration of our friendship.”

All the krewes in the parade have a certain theme and they dress up themselves and their floats to match.

Abbie Davidson is a newer member of Krewe de Carpe Diem; she joined the krewe three years ago. The Carpe Diem theme is disco. “We wear black or silver and crazy, big hair is encouraged,” Davidson said.

Pensacola Mardi Gras Inc. organized the parade on Saturday, and is a nonprofit run by Danny Zimmern and Amy Newman. Pensacola Parade People sell all the Mardi Gras-related items to the krewes for the parades, such as the beads that are thrown from the floats.

Audrey Preston and her mom Terry Preston are the co-owners of Pensacola Parade People.

“This is our fifth Mardi Gras season. However, we purposely named ourselves ‘Pensacola Parade People’ and not ‘Pensacola Mardi Gras People’ because we get business for all of the parades, but Mardi Gras is our biggest,” Audrey Preston said.

Mardi Gras season ends on Tuesday with the naming of a new Mardi Gras queen and king at the Priscus Celebration.

While Pensacola’s Mardi Gras parades are finished for the year, Mobile will have parades through Tuesday. Check out their website for the full schedule.