Biloxi's GCCA Prepares For Mardi Gras

Every Lundi Gras, Biloxi's public works crews load boxes of Mardi Gras beads and doubloons onto Gulf Coast Carnival Association floats. This year, those floats were surrounded by piles of hurricane debris. It was a strange sight.

To one public works employee, it emphasized why Carnival was so important to the recovery process.

"I think the people on the coast need Mardi Gras. We need something," the worker said.

That need was why the Gulf Coast Carnival Association prepared its floats for a rather unusual Fat Tuesday parade. Jerry Munro is the parade captain.

"I think it's salvation for us," he said. "With all the despair and destruction out there, I feel we're going to bring some happiness to the people's lives that need it right now."

An appreciative Biloxian stopped by the GCCA's float barn to simply say thanks.

"I just have to say I'm just overwhelmed. You guys have worked so hard," the woman said.

Munro leaned on her car and said, "Oh bless your heart. Thank you. It's just a labor of love. We like it."

For the second straight year, Duncan McKenzie is a GCCA Duke.

"We were so good, they decided to keep us two years," McKenzie joked.

The two year reign is one of the oddities of this post Katrina parade. GCCA is using last year's royalty to litter hurricane ravaged Biloxi with boxes of precious Mardi Gras momentos.

"I think people are ready to forget about this storm and to move forward in their lives. And I think Mardi Gras is a symbol of all that," McKenzie said.

Getting floats ready to roll wasn't easy. Fourteen GCCA floats parked in the back bay barn during the hurricane got torn apart by Katrina's storm surge. Eleven were rebuilt and will be used in Tuesday's parade.

"You've just gotta pick yourself up and go with it and keep rolling," said Munro. "Keep the tradition alive."

The Gulf Coast Carnival Association will use its traditional parade route Tuesday. But, unlike previous years, it will only hold one parade instead of two. And that parade will start at 1:00.