One couldn’t ask for better weather as the Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras day parade rolled through the streets of downtown on Saturday with temperatures in the upper 60s throughout the afternoon.
Police estimated the turnout was 30,000 to 35,000 people at 4 p.m., but the number could be larger.
Gulfport Public Information Officer Chris Vignes said it’s the largest turnout for the parade he’s ever seen.
“This was the perfect day for a parade, for families, for the city of Gulfport,” Vignes said as floats returned to their stationing area on 19th Street near U.S. 49.
The parade marks the 49th year for the Krewe of Gemini. There were 45 floats.
Among the revelers were about 35 kids on the Make-A-Wish Foundation float, either those granted wishes or siblings of grantees. Eight-year-old Zabulon Grace is blind, but his mother, Tanya Grace, helped him toss out beads and Moon Pies.
Rick Griffin had the task of putting the Make-A-Wish float together from what had been a skeletal frame. He said the community pitched in with lumber, a wheelchair ramp and a truck for towing the float.
“They gave us this for free,” he said. “They said it’s for a good cause.”
Martin Goldin of Florence Gardens LLC sponsored the Make-A-Wish Foundation float. Rachel Rath, a member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation board, stood with the kids in the center of the float, quickly tossing out box after box of beads to the insatiable crowd.
“This is really cool,” she said. “I could do this every year.”
Gemini also has a downtown Mardi Gras night parade, which is scheduled for 5:30 on Tuesday.