March 02 2004

[b]Lines from Lucy [/b]

Posted by Kim
Beads come easy in Pensacola

Two weeks ago my husband and I, along with our son, traveled to the sunny gulf coast of Pensacola, Florida to visit our daughter, who's attending spring semester at the University of West Florida.
In addition to visiting our daughters new school, we planned a short spring break type stay on Pensacola Beach. What we didnt plan on was experiencing our first southern Mardi Gras celebration.

Although the city of New Orleans (Bourbon Street especially) is the most well known site of Mardi Gras celebrations, my family and I discovered that many cities along the gulf coast host parades, balls, and other Mardi Gras events the week before Ash Wednesday.

We attended two different parades while staying in the Pensacola Beach area. The first one, held Friday night, February 20th was the Krewe of Lafitte Lighted Pirate Parade. A krewe is a word for an organization and every float carried the krewe of something. With less than 100 entries the lighted floats, most in the shape of pirate ships, made their way through downtown Pensacola. The costumed pirates threw beads, MoonPies, and other Mardi Gras favors throughout the hour-long parade. It didnt take us long to figure out you dont just stand and watch, people in the crowd of spectators would shout at those riding the floats to "throw something." Before long the number of strings of beads around our necks began to grow. Occasionally, other items including plastic cups, t-shirts, stuffed toys, and other trinkets and candy were thrown.

The French inspired celebration, Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday and is traditionally celebrated on that day of the week. The date can fall between February 3 and March 9 depending on the lunar calendar, which is used to determine the date of Easter. Mardi Gras is always 47 days before Easter Sunday.

The Mardi Gras season started on January 6 this year and came to an end on Fat Tuesday, February 24th, the day before the start of Lent.

The official colors for Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. The colors stand for the following: purple represents justice, green stands for faith, and gold stands for power.

Since we had such a good time at Friday nights parade we decided to go again on Saturday afternoon to the Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras parade, which was much bigger. A crowd of people, estimated at over 125,000, packed a 12 block area of downtown Pensacola to see the 3 hour parade.

The Pensacola celebrations, while more family friendly than the Bourbon Street celebrations seen on Cops, were a great deal of fun. We all got a neck full of beads and no one had to raise their shirt.

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