Can’t Rain On This Parade

by February 16, 2009 • 7 comments

img_0755Gray skies and fickle rain couldn’t spoil the Mardi Gras parade on Panama City Beach. The parade started just as the rains stalled around 3:00PM. Hundreds of locals and tourists lined Front Beach Road and if you missed it, you missed a raucous celebration.

Floats by the Krewe of Dominique Youx, Red Hatters, Hofbrau Beer Garden and others cruised the strip, transforming the seasonally quiet road into a street party. On a route beginning at Gulf World Marine Park, the good times rolled down Front Beach Road to Pier Park where the party kept on rocking.

Beneath overcast, the parade kicked off in jubilant fashion with Arnold High School’s “Blue Thunder” marching band. Cheering crowds, narrowing a misty Front Beach Road on both sides, screamed and reached to catch beads. Many of the local businesses like Boardwalk Beach Resort and Royal American designed floats to dazzle onlookers. The weather didn’t seem to dampen any spirits or keep parade participants from enjoying their own.

img_0763Still, Panama City Beach’s Mardi Gras parade was an all-ages affair. With the Gulf Coast as a backdrop, children hoarded beads and seniors danced in the streets while brass bands played. There were jesters of all colors, faces hidden behind Venetian masks and marionettes, and there were pirates, lots of pirates (one in particular who resembled Jack Sparrow so closely people stopped for autographs and pictures). The celebratory costumes didn’t end with Mardi Gras tradition. Joining in the festivities, Hula girls danced on a tropical float, beer maids flung beads and so did a Krewe dressed in costumes I can only describe as Daniel Boone meets Tonto. There was even an Imperial Stormtrooper sighting.

img_0773In my many years as a resident of Panama City Beach, Saturday’s Mardi Gras was the most fun I’ve experienced at a parade of any sort. It was a blast, churning out enough smiles and laughter to make an otherwise gloomy afternoon an all-out street party.  Attendance was astounding with estimates ringing to the tune of around 25,000.  Hoards of people were everywhere and some reported times in excess of 30 minutes just leaving Pier Park after the event.  One event organizer was quoted: “If it was this successful with crumby weather, imagine how it will be next year when the weather is great!”

Photos by Freda Columbus

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1 Jason Koertge February 16, 2009 at 11:44 am

This event was awesome. I was simply amazed at the turnout. If you were not there, you missed an amazing event.


2 jamnolfin February 16, 2009 at 5:34 pm

We had a blast, loaded up on the beads. i could’nt believe how many floats were in the parade. The crew also had a after parade party on the upper deck at Back Porch which was fun.


3 Jack February 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Holy Beads, Batman! This was such a cool event. My kids had an absolute ball. in fact, my wife and I had a really great time, too, which was a little unexpected. Pier Park is an excellent place for this, and I can’t believe what a crowd they gathered up even in bad weather. Fun crowd.

I spoke to some of the guys that put this together, and I was really impressed. They put this together with no real experience and almost no money. Now that they know what they’re doing, I’m betting with a little cooperation from the weather gods, this thing will be a blowout next year.

Perfect time of year, too. Nothing’s going on at the beach right now, so if they can grow this thing into a real Mardi Gras festival over a couple of days, we can fill the restaurants and put some heads in beds. Hat’s off to these guys for finally pulling off what’s been rumored for years – a PCB Mardi Gras.


4 Rockydoc February 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm

“I spoke to some of the guys that put this together, and I was really impressed. They put this together with no real experience and almost no money. Now that they know what they’re doing,”etc., etc.

That quote was from someone who didn’t know what he was talking about. The people “who put this together” have been doing this for 22 years, and spent $10,000 on beads alone, and that was for only one of the krewes. He was correct about one thing, it will be a lot better next year.


5 Boston Richie February 17, 2009 at 5:30 pm

I didn’t make it but great to hear that it was a big hit. I agree, it would be great for it to grow into someting big enough to draw people here for a few days.


6 schoolwiz February 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm

It was a gerat parade. I had a ton of fun and was amazed at the size of the crowd. Also great to hear the Arnold HS band playing Dixiland tunes.
And as one of the “guys who helped put this together”, it will certainly be much bigger and better next year with a little better weather.
Let the good times roll in PCB.


7 JP March 3, 2009 at 11:18 am

What the hell U talkin bout, Panama City Mardi Gras aint got nothing on St.Louis’. We have the best celebration for the situation, because its february in the mid-west and people still come from all over the globe to get drunk,crunk, and freeze there buts off! Downtown St.Louis’ parade lasts for hours and after that even more people pour into the streets to have a great time. N-E-ways lil man U know who dis is, long time no see, dis the one and only from LU!