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This year, it's jazzy, brassy, Cajun flavored

They've celebrated the big band era, disco and '60s music, and past themes have ranged from Latino to Chinese.

But this year, Dunedin's 15th annual "Mardi Gras on Main Street" is getting back to its roots.

It will be a good old Fat Tuesday, New Orleans style, but just a bit more family friendly.

That means Cajun cuisine, a big parade, bead necklaces flying through the air - oh, and plenty of jazzy music.

"We really looked to find the sounds of New Orleans this year," said Travis Kruger, who is organizing the musical lineup. "It's a tribute to those who suffered through Katrina and we want people to be mindful of it."

A portion of the proceeds will go to organizations helping people affected by the deadly hurricane, he said. Locally, the Dunedin for Youth Scholarship Fund will benefit.

About 25,000 to 30,000 revelers are expected to converge downtown. Festivities begin about 4:30 p.m. and last until 11 p.m.

The festival will take place along Main Street from Broadway to Louden Avenue, where street vendors will sell food, crafts, wine and beer.

On the menu? Seafood gumbo, Cajun crab patties, jambalaya, crab soup, and more.

Pioneer Park will be jamming with Big Easy music.

The Kings Highway Elementary bucket band, a troupe of little "bucketeers" who beat on plastic drums, will start things rolling about 4:30 p.m.

At 5 p.m., Ed Dowling and the French Market Band, displaced from New Orleans, will play Dixieland jazz.

At 6:30 p.m., Zydeco Zoo, a Cajun dance band from Tallahassee, will perform.

The 50-unit parade begins at 8 p.m. and will head south along Douglas Avenue from Monroe Street to Beltrees Street. (Hint for parents with small kids: The parade will be staged just north of Monroe on Douglas. There may be fewer bead-catching competitors there.)

Look for pirate krewes, Fox 13's Russell Rhodes as the grand marshal, Bill Coleman as this year's king, and a drag queen from Orlando as the parade's queen. And in keeping with the New Orleans theme, expect a hearse, a boat floating down the street, a voodoo doll-themed float, and an exterminator's float full of bugs.

After the parade, the Legendary J.C.'s (a.k.a. the Legendary Joint Chiefs Revue) from Orlando will perform.

"They are one of my favorites," Kruger said. "They just have this big horn, brassy, jazzy New Orleans sound. They are a real crowd pleaser."

Tonight's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with lows near 54 degrees, so bring a jacket. With no rain predicted, the only thing falling from the sky should be beads. And they should be plentiful.

Each unit gets a generous allotment of beads, "and they sometimes buy more," said Trina Cooney, owner of Flanagan's Irish Pub and president of the sponsoring Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association.

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