Battered Mardi Gras Floats Now Have Shelter

Doug Blom is building the 22nd Mardi Gras float for the Gulf Coast Carnival Association. His newest creation will roll on Fat Tuesday, joining the dragon, the clown, and royalty floats. They are all survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

"It was just disheartening. They were turned upside down," said Doug Blom. "I'm glad we were able to refurbish them and get some of them on the parade route a year after the storm."

But since Katrina also wiped-out the old den off Lee Street, those refurbished floats have been stored outdoors. You can see the holes, stains, and ripped decorations on the floats, after they have been exposed to the elements.

"It's not meant to be wet all the time, and damp all the time," Blom said. "Rust is going to be our main problem."

Those days of being homeless are over. The floats are now housed in a new, stronger shelter at the corner of Esters Boulevard and Jefferson Street in Biloxi. The building is twice as big as the old one.

"We can do more detailed work on them now," Blom said. "We don't have to put them out and know we had to redo them next year."

When asked if he likes being able to work indoors without worrying about the cold weather, Blom smiled and said "It makes it nice."

Seven of the floats are in such bad shape, they'll have to be completely stripped down and rebuilt from scratch. But once the floats are finished, they'll last longer because now, they are better protected.

"More excited about being able to redo some next year and get them done and keep them nice and fresh," Blom said.

The den's new location is also convenient. The building sits at the start and end of the parade route, which will make it easier for the floats and krewes to get in and out. The GCCA's Day Parade is on Mardi Gras, February 5th, at 1:00 PM.