Let the good times roll: The Mardi Gras and Music Festival returns to Panama City Beach
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Get ready to catch some beads this weekend as the annual Mardi Gras and Music Festival takes place in Panama City Beach.
Recently named on Budget Travel’s list of “Top things to do in February,” the annual Mardi Gras and Music Festival boasts a carnival-style celebration with family entertainment, a kids zone, a festival village, live music, parades, a 5K run and nightly fireworks. The two-day festival, held Feb. 3-4 at Pier Park, grows every year and has attracted nearly 50,000 attendees in the past.
While Visit Panama City Beach hosts the event with activities and entertainment, the Krewe of Dominique Youx —Bay County’s original Mardi Gras organization — brings out the Mardi Gras at the Beach parade.
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“The event has really grown year after year just by booking quality entertainment that guests can enjoy for free,” Visit Panama City Beach Public Relations Manager Rachel Banks said. “So it's just a good time for the whole family to come out and enjoy.”’
History of the Krewe of Dominique Youx
In 1986, Bay County residents Errol Legasse and Jerry Castardo formed the Krewe of Dominique Youx to bring a Mardi Gras tradition to the local area. The organization gets its name from a famed pirate, Dominique Youx, who was among a band of pirates who helped Andrew Jackson thwart a British invasion of New Orleans during the War of 1812 in exchange for pardons. Youx settled in New Orleans after the battle.
“(The Krewe) is proud to use the name of a historic buccaneer to promote the carnival spirit of Mardi Gras to bring visitors to our resorts and hotels in Panama City Beach and for the enjoyment of the people of Bay County, Panama City and Northwest Florida,” the organization stated on its website.
The Krewe of Dominique Youx named its 2023 court with King Allen Cotton and Queen Brenda Harned, along with six pirates: David Redmond, Noah Crow, Rob Jagger, Mike Simpers, Tommy Lynch and Glenn Keebler; and six princesses: Samantha McInnis, Serra Frohlich, Becky White, Pam McTeer, Michelle Brannon and Jo Ann Peak.
In addition to the spring parade, the krewe produces an annual fall parade on Columbus Day weekend to assist the Tourist Development Council in Panama City Beach in enhancing the traditional Mardi Gras experience in the local area.
A closer look into the festival
Festivities kick off Friday afternoon in Pier Park with the opening of the kids' zone and festival village in the SkyWheel Plaza and float tours along Pier Park Drive.
Also on Friday, opening ceremonies will take place before the kids' parade Second Liner’s parade floats down Pier Park Drive. Then, Louisiana-based Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp band will perform on the Celebration Stage, followed by a firework show from the Russell-Fields City Pier.
The event continues Saturday morning, starting with the Mardi Gras 5K Run/Walk at Frank Brown Park, 16200 Panama City Beach Parkway. The festival village and kids' fun zone will be available starting at noon at the SkyWheel Plaza.
Saturday features performances from The Frontmen country band and headliner Sawyer Brown at the Celebration Stage. The main parade presented by the Krewe of Dominique Youx will conclude the festival before the last firework display that evening.
For more information about this year's Mardi Gras and Music Festival, or to view the full schedule of events, visit VistPanamaCityBeach.com.
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: The annual Mardi Gras and Music Festival returns to Panama City Beach