People lined the streets of Biloxi today hoping to catch beads from the dozens of floats, and enjoy the music of several marching bands. Three groups along the parade route each talked about helping the coast rebuild in their own way.
The Gulf Coast Carnival Association parade meant all play and no work for the employees of Biloxi based Aladdin Construction. The company celebrated Mardi Gras with a small feast for workers and their families.
"I think it's something that helps bond us as a company and really bring us together," said Pete Butera, a company spokesperson.
Employees know how important the business is to the rebuilding the coast. Aladdin had a part in repairing two casinos and two Biloxi schools while constructing the new Catholic High school and several condos.
"So much of our company has been here our whole life. There's a lot of personal tragedy going but we just thought it was an obligation to get back up, get started, and help the city get back on its own," said Butera.
Sue and Tommy Shelton also want to help bring back the Mississippi Gulf Coast with their tourism dollars. The Atlanta couple say they continue to make Biloxi a Fat Tuesday tradition even after Katrina.
Sue Shelton said, "We plan to retire here eventually. We just love it, and we just hate it that Katrina came. But it just looks great. It's getting better."
Volunteers For Habitat For Humanity used the day to trade their hammers and nails for beads and doubloons.
"We just love it," said Steve Volkers of Grand Rapids, Michigan. "It's just been great grabbing beads. Like I never thought beads could be so much fun."
The volunteers say it's nice to see storm victims and relief workers together having a good time.
"It's just fun seeing the different cultures that we don't get to see at home. And so it's just fun having fun with different people, different areas around our nation."
Biloxi police estimate the crowd to be 75,000.