BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - When the good times roll on Fat Tuesday tens of thousands of people will be trying to catch Mardi Gras beads at the Gulf Coast Carnival Association parade. The Biloxi parade will also be a chance to showcase this year's royalty.
King D'Iberville Mark Donlon Mavar and Queen Ixolib Christina Ann Carter both say GCCA is one big family. As she put on the beautiful elaborate gown, Carter was transformed into Queen Ixolib.
"This experience has been absolutely unbelievable," said Carter. "I never thought in a million years I would be queen, and when I got the phone call, I started cutting cartwheels across my front yard. I was so excited."
The 2005 Mercy Cross High graduate said seeing her wear the crown is an honor for the entire Carter family.
"My dad was a Duke in 2007. That was the first the first time we were introduced to Gulf Coast Carnival Association. I didn't even know about the association before that," said Carter.
"Then he was king in 2009, and I was a maid in 2010. And now I've involved my little nephews and nieces in it. My niece and nephew are my pages. And my nephew is flag bearer this year, so it's become a very big family tradition."
Mark Donlon Mavar had a far different reaction when he found out he'd been chosen as Gulf Coast Carnival Association royalty.
"When they said you're the king, and I said, 'No, I'm not,'" Mavar said.
The Biloxi businessman changed his mind after realizing he wanted his father, 85-year-old Victor Mavar, also past king, to share the special moment.
"A good friend of mine told me, 'Mark, I lost both of my parents in a year. When I was king, if my mother and father had not been there, to see me, it would not have meant as much to me,'" said Mavar. "So it really means a lot for my father to see me. I cannot fill his shoes, but I'm able to walk in his footsteps as King D'Iberville."
Carter and Mavar say what they love most about GCCA is that it is one big welcoming family.
"The most important thing to me about Carnival is not the ball. It's not the parades. It's not all the parties," said Mavar. "It's the friendships that are developed over years and years. Not only do I develop new friendships, my children are developing new friendships with people in the carnival organization. That's the most important thing about carnival."
Carter said, "They welcome you with open arms. The minute you meet them, it's like you've known them your whole life. I've met people that I will have a relationship with for the rest of my life. They are life long friends."
The Gulf Coast Carnival Association parade rolls on Tuesday, February 21 at 1 PM.