Make us your home page
Instagram

Dunedin's Mardi Gras expected to draw 30,000 with parade, festival

DUNEDIN

In the early '90s, a series of events took place that helped revive a dying downtown, including a Main Street streetscape program, the completion of a 10-mile stretch of the Pinellas Trail and the formation of an active Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association that held events to draw in the traffic.

The first such event?

A Fat Tuesday party in 1991 when a bar at 325 Main St. (now known as the Blur nightclub) was decorated with masks, beads and festive bunting.

"The turnout was so good, the party spilled out into the street," said Gregory Brady, owner of Salon GW and president of the Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association.

The next year, Brady and some other business owners capitalized on that success by adding a parade with then-Mayor Manny Koutsourais as parade grand marshal and female impersonator Vanessa Valentine as their first queen.

Several thousand turned out, much to the surprise of the organizers. Today, the event is billed as "one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the Southeast."

"It's become an institution," said Brady who, in 1993, became the first president of the Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association. This is his sixth term.

About 30,000 people are expected to attend this year's 25th annual Dunedin Mardi Gras Parade and Festival dubbed "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves."

The festival, presented by the merchants' association, the city and Bright House Networks, is produced by CMJ Productions. It runs from 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday and then spills over to local pubs and restaurants until closing time.

Paradegoers are advised to stake out a spot along the parade route early since some attendees begin arriving shortly after lunchtime. The procession begins at 7:30 p.m. in front of the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, runs along Douglas Avenue and ends near Skinner Boulevard.

The musical lineup has expanded to four stages throughout downtown and features Grammy Award-winners Trae Pierce and the T-Stone Band as well as Cajun Dave and the N'awlins Po Boyz from the Big Easy.

Food trucks and other vendors will line Main Street. The merchants' association will be selling a special collection of masks created by maskmaker Rebecca Shelley.

The parade features about 60 floats and a drag queen to be chosen at the Blur nightclub at 7 p.m. Sunday.

New this year are VIP parking passes at $10 each ($11.34 with the website service fee) available at dunedinmardigras.com. Discounted "Bourbon Street Bucks" are available online and good for the purchase of beer, wine and merchandise.

Uber is the official ride service for the Mardi Gras event. First-time Uber users can text "MARDIGRAS25" to receive free rides to and from the festival.

VIP tickets also are available online for $55 ($57.92 with website service fee). They include access to the "VooDoo Lounge," a private VIP area along the parade route, drinks, hors d'oeuvres and desserts, and the cover charge to the after-party at the Blur.

The VIP area is located in the Ocean Optics parking lot, offering a great view from Douglas Avenue, said Corey Judge, the event organizer.

"You can't get any closer to the parade without being in it," he said.

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at [email protected]

>>if you go

Fat Tuesday

The 25th annual Dunedin Mardi Gras Parade and Festival will begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday in downtown Dunedin. The parade will start at 7:30 p.m. on Douglas Avenue in front of the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., and continue north, ending near Skinner Boulevard. To view parking maps and purchase special tickets, visit dunedinmardigras.com.

Dunedin's Mardi Gras expected to draw 30,000 with parade, festival 02/03/16 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2016 1:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gourmet food fight between top chefs raises $200,000

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — The chefs came armed with their secret ingredients — pork rinds, truffle butter, pork bellies.

    (From left to right) Chefs Ryan Mitchell, Michael Buttacavoli, Ted Dorsey and Matthew Brennan compete during Tampa Bay Food Fight at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event features chefs from the Tampa Bay area and benefitted Metropolitan Ministries. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  2. Channing Tatum drops out of Weinstein Co. movie about sex abuse

    Movies

    LOS ANGELES — Channing Tatum is no longer developing a film with the Weinstein Co. that dealt with a boy dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse.

    Channing Tatum at the premiere of "Comrade Detective" in Los Angeles. Tatum is no longer developing a film with the Weinstein Company about a boy dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse. (Associated Press)
  3. Plan your weekend: Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, MarineQuest, Florida Orchestra pops in the park, rodeo

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Concerts

    Music weekend: Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and Bruno Mars all in one weekend? We have a playlist of a weekend coming up. Thursday brings Bruno's sold-out 24K Magic World Tour to Amalie Arena. The next day brings the country power …

    Bill Clark and Danelle Dasouqi admire the chalk art on the side walk during the final day of the three day Chalk Art Festival in Clearwater Beach. JIM REED/STAFF
  4. Ticket window: Harry Potter movie concert, Andrea Bocelli, Ed Sheeran, Iliza Shlesinger, Alan Parsons Project on sale this week

    Music & Concerts

    Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:

    British singer Ed Sheeran performs during the Italian State RAI TV program "Che Tempo che Fa", in Milan, Italy on March 12, 2017, 
AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
  5. 13 things to do in Tampa Bay on Oct. 19

    Events

    Bruno Mars: Get your Uptown Funk on at the Grammy-winning pop star's 24K Magic World Tour. 8 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $41.25-$131.25. (813) 301-2500.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25:  Bruno Mars performs onstage at 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)