On the eve of Lent in 1699 French explorer Jean- Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, anchored his ship in what would become Louisiana and named that piece of high ground Pointe du Mardi Gras. Some 315 years later Mardi Gras is a revered tradition along the coastal towns and cities of the Northern Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Pensacola. Hotels are booked years in advance and homes are overrun with house guests, yet available slips in the harbors and marinas of these coastal towns— some located on parade routes—are quietly used by only a few cruisers in the know.
Each city and town has its own flavor and personality for their Mardi Gras celebration, which can run from one or two parades on the weekend before Fat Tuesday (otherwise known as Mardi Gras Day) to the nearly three weeks of super-parades in New Orleans. Pensacola hosts a few parades on the weekend before March 4th, which is Mardi Gras Day. These elaborate celebrations run directly through the historic downtown with transient slips available only blocks away at the Palafox Pier and Yacht Harbour Marina, providing convenient access to mariners who seek to join the festive activities.