This Tuesday is “Fat Tuesday.” Although I’ve been to Naw’lins many times, I’ve never attended the Big Daddy of Mardi Gras celebrations.
I’m not one for large crowds, especially ones with a lot of inebriated folks. Nor do I want to put up with the hassle of crowded restaurants or pay jacked up hotel rates. So even the prospect of multiple sightings of “boobs for beads babes” is not compelling enough for me to attend. 😉
But Naw’lins isn’t the only Mardi Gras celebration going on. Many cities along the Gulf Coast have their own Mardi Gras, albeit on a more modest scale. In 2008, we attended the Mardi Gras celebration in the St. Andrews waterfront in Panama City at the suggestion of a friend of ours who was (but is no longer) the executive director of the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency, of which St. Andrews is one of four redevelopment areas there.
We were skeptical about whether it would be “worth it” but the possibility of being lavished with special favors, or at least extra beads, due to this connection to the “in charge” appealed to the my psyche’s oligarchical remnants. Getting the royal treatment during Mardi Gras? I’m there….!
We were pleasantly surprised. There were many more floats than I expected and Susie managed to catch or scoop up copious amounts of beads. Before the parade, we wandered the commercial area, which had food booths and vendors in addition to interesting local shops and dining.
The next day, we wandered the Pier Park outdoor mall which is literally across the street from the pier on Panama City Beach, one of the best white sand beaches in the country. We returned for last year’s St. Andrews Mardi Gras.
When checking on when this year’s celebration would be, I learned that there are three Mardi Gras Krewes in Panama City. Each Krewe is holding a celebration on a different Saturday this month. After reading up on the three celebrations, I decided that this year we’d attend the one in Panama City Beach, since it looks to be bigger than the one in St. Andrews.
The parade began at 2 p.m. but we arrived about noon so we could wander the stores, which were hoping to take advantage of all the extra folks by having some big sales. Many restaurants had $1 draft beers (8-10 ounces) and Guy Harvey’s Island Grill had $3 pitchers. Susie doesn’t drink beer, but a gyro place had 32-ounce fountain sodas for $1.
Although it was brisk 54 degrees which seemed colder than that because of a brisk ocean breeze and the sun hidden by clouds, we still had a great time. Susie initially held back from the bead begging since we already have more beads than we’ll ever need, but she eventually got caught up in the fervor and ended up with another dozen.
Laissez les bons temps roulez! Here are photos.