BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mardi Gras revelers started lining the Gulf Coast Carnival Association route in Biloxi before dawn. By the time the parade rolled, the weather was perfect for an enormous crowd full of excitement.
One of the more popular places to view the GCCA parade is the area near the Biloxi lighthouse on Highway 90. And this year was no exception.
"From Florida to Saucier," yelled Randy Phelps, as his friends and family fired-up the grill. They were getting ready for some Fat Tuesday parade fun.
"Grilling out. Gonna have a good time. Got the kids here. We are going to have an awesome time," said a smiling Phelps.
"This group is having fun. This is all family and friends. Happy Mardi Gras," said Picayune resident Janet Brass.
The long awaited Biloxi parade rolled under chamber of commerce skies and near record crowds.
"Throw me something mister," yelled Kim Smith.
We found a trio of friends screaming for beads in the median near the lighthouse. Two Alabama residents and a Gulfport girl.
"This is my first time. And I'm loving it. I love it, I love it," said Smith.
The trio of friends staked out their parade turf five hours before the first float arrived.
"Because it looked like a perfect spot. It was nine o'clock in the morning. And we were here first. And I love it," said Gina from Gulfport.
Thousands of Mardi Gras fans filled the westbound lanes of Highway 90 as the colorful floats rolled along. A swarm of hands waved for throws, with anxious parade goers scrambling and screaming all along the parade route.
Some Mardi Gras first timers from Ohio caught on quickly. Kire and Tony Margello are visiting family and soaking up the Biloxi tradition.
"Hey Mardi Gras. Absolutely. The beads. The weather. Everything," said Kire Margello.
"Our cousins came out early and got us a good spot," Toni added.
There were plenty of good spots on this Fat Tuesday, with tons of beads, family and friends, and bright sunshine.
It was a perfect day to do what most everyone along the parade route had in mind.
"Party with all my friends and have a good time," said Randy Phelps.
The parade took more than two and half hours to wind its way down Main Street through downtown and around the lighthouse on Highway 90.