It's been a soggy Fat Tuesday on Bourbon Street. The last day of Mardi Gras still drew a steady crowd on New Orlean's famous street, but the rain kept a lot of folks inside.
Of course, you don't have to go all the way to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras! Dunedin has a terrific parade and concert every year.
You'd think people might be over throwing beads and having a big street party after all the Gasparilla events, but no way! After 22 years, people told us the party in Pinellas County is just getting started.
"Happy Mardi Gras!" people yelled as the floats crawled by, celebrating more than two decades of colorful parades down Dunedin's Main Street, for a little taste of Bourbon Street right here at home.
"This is the way to go, it's close to home," said Deborah Ahlgren of Safety Harbor. "Have fun, lots of good, cold beer."
From the beads, to the hats and in some cases, electric hair, people love to bring the bling!
"I got this from Oldsmar flea market last weekend," said Jolee Foerster, who was rocking a vintage purple dress. There were some truly resourceful fashions.
"Every year, we get dressed up and come down," said Theresa Seifert of Dunedin. "I made the wigs, I sewed the beads on 'em, I made my outfit, I made his crown out of a paper bag!"
"These are buffalo teeth," said Dennis Mulcunry, who sported a wild necklace around his neck and a spray-painted gold paper crown on his head. "I made this necklace, just thought it was black and white, good contrast and out here to have a good night!"
People stake out a prime spot on the parade route to get those coveted beads.
Deborah Ahlgren and a wild bunch of women from safety harbor told us how we do Mardi Gras this side of New Orleans.
"They light up and they're really awesome and then you tell beads! Beads!," said Ahlgren. "And the more you get crazy, the more they'll throw you beads! Yeah man!"
Her friend Prissy Tirado was here for the very first parade back in 1992.
"It wasn't like this," said Tirado. "There was like, nobody here!"
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said more than 30,000 people make it their Mardi Gras destination every year.
People like Sue Hackney, who escaped the blizzard in Massachussetts.
"I bet you're not missing the snowstorm there right now," we said to Hackney. "No, no!," she laughed.
"I think this is the only thing going on in the Tampa Bay area for Mardi Gras per se, on a weekday," said Tim Martin. When he's not wearing his set of gigantic beads around his neck, Martin is happily placing them on random folks.
"They have them in New Orleans, ya know? And it's just fun to wear and people get a kick out of 'em," said Martin.
The Dunedin Mardi Gras people told us, is a family-friendly way to celebrate responsibly.
"We love the festival!," yelled one group of women.
"A lot of taxi's are coming!," laughed Ahlgren.
This, by the way, was the last night of eating richer, fatty foods and enjoying excesses, because at midnight, the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday, or as some of the revelers in Dunedin might call it, "regret" Wednesday, when their alarms go off early Wednesday morning.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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