New Orleans isn’t the only place that puts on Mardi Gras festivities. Panama City, Florida’s St. Andrews neighborhood hosts the largest celebration of its kind in Bay County. The Krewe of St. Andrews was founded in 1997 and has been hosting annual events ever since.
Now boasting over 180 members, the family-friendly event raises funds for local charities and supports college scholarships. But there’s more than just the parade, which has a different theme every year. There are also activities for kids, food, and live music. A king and queen are also chosen. Even after the devastation of Hurricane Michael, the good times continue to roll in Panama City at the end of February!
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Choose your parade.
There are two parades, including one for families, and they are made up of 14 krewes and over 30 decorated floats. They make their way down Beck Avenue, bringing in around 50,000 people. The kids and pet parade is held on Friday, followed by the Masker Parade. The Main Parade is held on Saturday afternoon.
Bring a bag for your throws.
Each krewe is in charge of getting its own goodies to throw at locals, so you never know what you’re going to get. They include beads and doubloons as well as snacks like Moon Pies. Bring a bag to put your haul in. I even saw some smart individuals holding out umbrellas to catch more beads.
Make a game plan for food.
The St. Andrews neighborhood isn’t large, so food options are limited. There are plenty of booths, but if you want to go to a sit-down restaurant, go early or make a reservation to avoid long waits. We recommend Hunt’s Oyster Bar and Seafood Restaurant and Uncle Ernie’s Bayfront Grill, both of which serve fresh Gulf seafood.
Catch a performance.
Cover bands and regional acts play into the night on Friday and all day on Saturday. Just about every genre is represented!
Drinks are also sold on the street as well as in bars and it can become a bit raucous in the evenings for this reason. Plan on taking rideshare or taxi at night.
Book your accommodations early.
My trip was organized by Lou Hammond Group and Visit Panama City.