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Bon Temps in Galveston, With Plenty of Beads, Balcony Parties and Parades

Twenty-four parades and related events are planned at The 106th Celebration of Mardi Gras! Galveston.
Twenty-four parades and related events are planned at The 106th Celebration of Mardi Gras! Galveston. Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
It's Mardi Gras time again on the island, that glorious 12-day extravaganza of beads, balcony parties, brunches and balls. Thirty-two concerts are booked for The 106th Celebration of Mardi Gras! Galveston, with headliners Sugar Ray, La Mafia and Stoney LaRue, plus Electric Mardi Gras headliners fueled by Monster.

But this year we're excited about the parades and balcony parties: With the addition of the new Fiesta Gras de Carnival, we've got 24 parades and related events marching through Galveston. They've strategically moved all the parades to roughly the same part of downtown and the Strand district, so the balcony parties have mushroomed like nobody's business; click here to find the shebang that's best for you.

First weekend parade highlights include the twirling, colorful umbrellas of the Funky Uptown Umbrella Brigade; the mythology-themed Mystic Krewe of Aquarius; and the "let's pair exercise with libations" Jolly Jester Jaunt 5K/10K.

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King Gambrinus has invited 300,000 of his closest friends, and we can expect more than 650,000 beads thrown on February 18.
Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
Don't miss the February 18 Krewe of Gambrinus Parade on opening weekend. Each year they elect a new King and Queen Gambrinus (it's a formal election process that involves finding the baby in a king cake), and the krewe tosses a staggering 650,000 beads to 300,000 of their closest friends, plus Frisbees, blinky rings and trinkets. "We have two huge semi truckloads of beads that come in from New Orleans for the parade," says Kate Marx, one of the krewe's board members. "If you want to feel like a rock star, join one of the krewes and get in the parade because all of those people are hollering and screaming for beads."

The Gambrinus krewe chose "Salute to Music Legends" as its theme this year, and each of the 15 to 25 floats will have its own tagline and costumed riders, all vying for trophies and gloating rights. Marx says the tagline for her float is "Living Legends, and a Few Dead Ones Too," so we can expect to see ZZ Top, the Village People and David Bowie with angel wings.

By the time the second weekend rolls around, we'll be ready to honor the memory of Fire Chief and District 5 Representative Danny Weber Sr.; enjoy Krewe Babalu's "more beads per foot" parade; and cheer on Z Crew's Zanie Processional led by big Daddy, Big Mama, Queen Zanie and their royal Zoots and Zaftigs. The second weekend's crown jewel is the Knights of Momus Grand Night Parade. It's the oldest and largest krewe in Galveston, dating back to 1871, and this year's theme is "Pirates of the Caribbean."

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The 19th Annual Krewe of Barkus & Meoux Parade is February 26 in downtown Galveston.
Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
No matter the weather, there's a 100 percent chance of cuteness on February 26, with bedazzled pets on parade (Barkus & Meoux) followed by the costumed kiddies at the Firefighters Children's Parade. Below please find the full schedule of parades and related events during this year's Mardi Gras in Galveston.

Friday, February 17
7 p.m., George P. Mitchell Mardi Gras Award Parade honoring Larry Del Papa, The Tremont House, Strand district, Galveston
8 p.m., 7th Annual Funky Uptown Umbrella Brigade Parade, Strand district, Galveston
10 p.m., Krewe of Olympus Parade, Strand district, Galveston

Saturday, February 18
9 a.m., 2017 Jolly Jester Jaunt 5K/10K, Strand district, Galveston
Noon, 31st Annual Mystic Krewe of Aquarius Kick-Off Parade, 57th and Seawall, Galveston
1 p.m., 6th Annual Zaniest Golf Cart Parade, Strand district, Galveston
3 p.m., Krewe D'iHeartMedia Art Car Parade, Strand district, Galveston
6 p.m., Krewe of Gambrinus Parade, 57th and Seawall, Galveston

Sunday, February 19
1 p.m., Fiesta Gras de Carnival, LULAC 151 Tejano Gras, Strand district, Galveston
4 p.m., Fiesta Gras de Carnival: Parade Tres, Strand district, Galveston

Friday, February 24
7 p.m., First Responders Day: Danny Weber Memorial Fire Truck Parade, Strand district, Galveston
8 p.m., Krewe Babalu 12th Annual All Krewe Parade, Strand district, Galveston
9:30 p.m. Krewe of Maximilian Parade, Strand district, Galveston

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There's a pre-parade Battle of the Bands at Kermit Courville Stadium on February 25. The Krewe d'Esprit Rosaire Parade then kicks off at 11 a.m. at Kempner Park, followed by a yard party at Jack Johnson Park.
Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
Saturday, February 25
9 a.m., Krewe d'Esprit Rosaire [Pre-Parade] Battle of the Bands, Kermit Courville Stadium, Galveston
11 a.m., Krewe d'Esprit Rosaire Parade, Seawall Boulevard, Galveston
1 p.m., Z Krewe 23rd Zanie Processional, Strand district, Galveston
2:30 p.m., Mardi Gras King's Parade, Strand district, Galveston
3 p.m., Island ETC Mardi Gras Parade Viewing Party, Island ETC, Galveston
3:30 p.m., Les Bon Temps Roule Parade, Strand district, Galveston
6:30 p.m., Knights of Momus Grand Night Parade, 25th and Seawall, Galveston

Sunday, February 26
Noon, Shriners Hospitals for Children & Sunshine Kids Parade, Strand district, Galveston
1:30 p.m., 19th Annual Krewe of Barkus & Meoux Parade, downtown Galveston
3 p.m., Firefighters Children's Parade, downtown Galveston

Tuesday, February 28
6:30 p.m., Mystic Krewe of Aquarius 21st Annual Fat Tuesday, Strand district, Galveston

The 106th Celebration of Mardi Gras! Galveston runs February 17-28 in the Strand district, in downtown Galveston and along Seawall Boulevard. Entrances to the Mardi Gras entertainment district can be found at 20th and Strand; Mechanic Street at 21st, 23rd and 25th; and 21st and Harborside Drive. For information, visit Free for children age 12 or younger (accompanied by an adult); gate fees begin at $11.50, plus additional costs for balcony parties and multi-day passes.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney