Mardi Gras on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Mardi Gras falls on February 12 this year, but the fun starts way before that! At last count, more than two dozen parades roll on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, beginning January 26 and the first Mardi Gras ball on January 12.
Mardi Gras on the Coast: Mardi Gras on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has become a major tourism Gulf Coast event, having been awarded one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Winter Events for the past three years. Always up for a celebration, the Gulf Coast Carnival Association held the first Mardi Gras parade in Biloxi in 1908 with 17 floats, 150 lighted torch carriers and the 12-piece Herald Newspaper Band. Then, 21 years later, Mardi Gras on the Coast expanded to include other Coast cities. Biloxi has celebrated every year except for war and Depression years. Even after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the celebration slowed but did not stop the carnival season.
Mardi Gras history: Originating in medieval Europe, Mardi Gras became popular with the French in the 17th and 18th centuries. French for Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras refers to the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville arrived south of New Orleans and designated a plot 60 miles south of the city, Pointe du Mardi Gras. When Bienville established New Orleans in 1718, he brought the Mardi Gras tradition with him.
Mardi Gras balls and festivities became deeply ingrained as part of the New Orleans culture in the late 1800s, with the first parade in 1872 honoring visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff, whose family colors of purple, green and gold became the color symbols for Mardi Gras: Purple representing justice; green, faith; and gold, power.
The Mardi Gras season now attracts more than 450,000 people every year with parades in every city along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, from Diamondhead in the east to Pascagoula on the west.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Mardi Gras Parade Schedule
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Mardi Gras parade schedule for the 2013 carnival season:
Ocean Springs – The 38th annual Ocean Springs Elks Mardi Gras Parade will roll at 1 p.m. through the streets of downtown Ocean Springs. The parade forms on Front Beach and travels up Porter Avenue to Washington Avenue, then north on Washington to Government Street, then east on Government before disbanding at the Ocean Springs Upper Elementary. The theme of this year’s parade is “Salute to the Military.” For more information about the Ocean Springs Elks Mardi Gras Parade, call the Ocean Springs Elks Lodge at 228-875-2501 or visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=55.
Biloxi – The Second Liners Mardi Gras Club Parade rolls at 1 p.m., with this year’s theme, “Adventures In Paradise.” The parade starts at Nichols Elementary School and ends at D.C. Bush Park on Esters Boulevard. The Second Liners sponsor a Mardi Gras Block Party at the park following the parade. For more information, contact Anthony Mitchell at 228-324-5194 or visit biloxisecondliners.com.
Lizana – The 10th annual Lizana Mardi Gras Parade begins at 1 p.m., with the route starting at Lizana Elementary School, continuing to Cable Bridge Road, then north to Moran Road before finishing back at Lizana Elementary. The parade, which began with just 15 floats, has grown to more than 30. For more information, contact Floyd Babin at 228-234-7992 or 228-831-8730 or visit www.gulfcoast.org.
Gautier – The 24th annual Gautier Men’s Club Mardi Gras Parade will roll at 7 p.m. along U.S. 90. The parade begins at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, travels along U.S. 90 past Singing River Mall and then loops around back to the college. For more information, contact Bill Whatley or Tim Honeycutt at 228-627-1887 or visit www.gautiermensclub.com/Parade.html.
Vancleave – The 23rd annual Mystic Krewe of Pine Island Mardi Gras Parade will roll along Johns Bayou Road in Vancleave at 1:30 p.m. The festivities begin with a tailgating party at 12 noon. Contact J.R. (Rich) Wilson at 228-990-0270 for more information or visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=2605.
Pascagoula – The 5th annual Krewe of Little Rascals Children’s Mardi Gras Parade will roll at 1 p.m. in Pascagoula at the Downtown Plaza. This is a children’s parade with bikes, wagons, shopping carts and just about anything non-motorized. Awards will be given for best costume and best float. The event is sponsored by the City of Pascagoula. For more information, contact Rebecca Davis at 228-938-6604 or visit cityofpascagoula.com.
Moss Point – The Moss Point Mardi Gras Parade, sponsored by the Parade of Classes, will roll through the downtown area beginning at 1 p.m. For more information, contact Travis Love at 228-990-8987 or Aundra Hyde at 228-249-2027 or visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=3171.
Pass Christian – The 18th annual Timber Ridge Women’s Mardi Gras Parade will roll at 2 p.m. in the Timber Ridge subdivision, 515 Henderson Ave., in Pass Christian. For more information, contact Judy Veltman at 228-452-5629 or Terrie Anderson at 205-427-0848 or visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=2156.
Gulfport – The 23rd annual Orange Grove Carnival Association Mardi Gras Parade is set for 2 p.m. The family-oriented parade begins at the Harrison Central 9th grade school, north to Dedeaux Road, then west to Highway 49 to Ashley Drive. For more information, contact Parade Captain Jessie Lott at 228-239-6822 or visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=999.
Long Beach – The 42nd annual Carnival Association of Long Beach Mardi Gras Parade will roll at 6 p.m. through downtown Long Beach. For more information, contact Darren Mayer at 228-363-0065 or Amanda Broome-Cumberland at 228-806-5048 or visit www.longbeachcarnival.com.
Pass Christian – The 5th annual Krewe of Legacy Mardi Gras Parade is set for 12 noon. The five-mile route starts and ends at Neco’s Market Place at the intersection of Vidalia and Cable Bridge Road, near I-10 exit 24. For more information, call Jeffery Cuevas at 228-216-2097 or visitwww.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=2177.
Waveland – The 46th annual Krewe of Nereids Mardi Gras Parade will roll along U.S. 90 beginning at 1 p.m. The route begins at the intersection of Drinkwater and U.S. 90 in Bay St. Louis and then rolls west ending at Auderder Street and U.S. 90 in Waveland. The parade will travel west towards Waveland in the eastbound lane. For more information, contact Dianne Martin at 228-216-9911 or visit www.thekreweofnereids.com.
Pascagoula – The Jackson County Carnival Association Mardi Gras Parade begins at 1 p.m. and rolls through downtown Gulfport. The route starts at Pascagoula Street and Ingalls Avenue, then to Market Street and continues north to Jackson Avenue, then south back to Ingalls Avenue. For more information, contact Alma Huyett of the JCCA at 228-990-1456 or visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=248.
Gulfport – The 43rd annual Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Day Parade will roll at 2 p.m. through downtown Gulfport. The parade starts at 19th Street and goes towards Highway 49, past Hancock Bank and through downtown Gulfport. For more information, contact Krewe President Betsy Glendenning at 228-539-9692 or visit kreweofgeminigulfport.com.
Diamondhead – The Krewe of Diamondhead Mardi Gras Parade is scheduled for 12 noon, beginning at the Diamondhead Community Center and winding its way to the country club. For more information, call Pat Sheehy at 228-255-6922 or visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=249.
D’Iberville – the 25th annual North Bay Association Mardi Gras Parade will roll at 1:30 p.m. beginning on LeMoyne Avenue in St. Martin and traveling west to Central Avenue in D’Iberville. The parade features more than 70 units For more information about the parade, visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=64.
Pass Christian – The 83rd annual Pass Christian Mardi Gras Parade will get under way at noon at the corner of Davis Avenue and Second Street, proceeding to Scenic Drive before turning west to Henderson Avenue. From there, the route goes north to St. Louis, east to Church Street, south to Second Street and east on Second Street to Davis Avenue. The parade is hosted by the St. Paul Carnival Association and this year’s theme is “Asian Calendar: The Year of the Snake.” For more information, contact SPCA President Robin Rafferty at 228-547-4873 or visit www.stpaulcarnival.com.
Biloxi – The 15th annual Biloxi Children’s Mardi Gras Walking Parade will begin at 11 a.m. on the Biloxi Town Green on Beach Boulevard. The parade features wagons, strollers, bikes and more. The parade begins at the corner of Lameuse and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., continues south on Lameuse and ends at the Biloxi Town Green. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the event is sponsored by the City of Biloxi. For more information, call Kay Miller at 228-435-6339 or visit www.biloxi.ms.us.
Gulfport – The 43rd annual Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Night Parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Gulfport. Over 60 units roll in the parade. For more information, contact Betsy Glendenning at 228-539-9692 or visit kreweofgeminigulfport.com.
Bay St. Louis – The 6th annual Krewe of Diamonds Mardi Gras Parade will roll at 1 p.m. through downtown Bay St. Louis. Originally known at the Krewe of Real People, the krewe bills itself as the Coast’s only predominantly African-American krewe. The route travels down Main Street, turns on to 2nd Street, then on to Union Street and continuing to Blaize Avenue in front of the historic Depot. For more information, contact Tequila Hall at 228-342-0883 or Corinn Burton at 228-671-1471 or visit www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/events/index.cfm?EventID=252.
Biloxi – The Gulf Coast Carnival Association Mardi Gras Parade will roll at 1 p.m. through downtown Biloxi. Started more than 103 years ago, the parade is the largest on the Gulf Coast with more than 100 units. For more information, call 228-432-8806 or visit www.gulfcoastcarnivalassociation.com.
Biloxi – The Krewe of Neptune Mardi Gras Parade caps off the carnival season when it rolls at 3 p.m. through downtown Biloxi. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 228-669-4917 or visit www.kreweofneptune.org.