DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama – For more than a quarter century, Dauphin Island has kicked off south Alabama’s Mardi Gras parade season, and island residents will continue the tradition this year with the Krewe de la Dauphine’s annual parade on Saturday, Jan. 13. It will be followed by the Dauphin Island People’s Parade on Saturday, Jan. 20.
Both will begin at 1 p.m. on the eastern end of Bienville Boulevard.
The parades draw 30,000 to 40,000 people to the resort community, according to Mayor Jeff Collier, who attributes their popularity to the fact that people in the region are eagerly awaiting their “Mardi Gras fix.”
“South Alabamians are always ready to party, and the Dauphin Island parades are a chance to do just that,” Collier said. “After having waited for a whole year, people are ready for their first beads and Moon Pies of 2018.”
The Krewe de la Dauphine’s theme will be “Faces Behind the Masks,” with floats featuring Captain America, Batman, the Green Lantern, “Star Wars” and other masked characters, according to parade chairwoman Marguerite Noel.
This year’s grand marshal will be radio personality “Uncle Henry,” and parade royalty will include Queen Lynette and King Mike.
“We’re going to have a really big parade, with lots of surprises,” Noel said. “I wanted to do some different things. It’s going to be great fun.”
He said the parade will include “a lot of unique entries,” from bucket trucks to “tiny house” floats and the reappearance of last year’s King Cake Babies.
“We had about 85 units in last year’s parade,” Fox said. “I think it was very well received. I believe we proved ourselves. A lot of people went home and said to their friends, ‘We went to the coolest parade.'”
Steve Joynt, publisher of Mobile Mask, a regional Mardi Gras magazine, will serve as grand marshal of the People’s Parade. Well-known Mardi Gras personality Chief Slacabamorinico, portrayed by Wayne Dean, also will appear in it.
The mayor and parade organizers advise people to plan to “make a day of it” when they attend the parades, as it can take several hours for traffic to clear afterward.
“I tell people to come early, have lunch and go shopping, then find a good spot to watch the parade,” Fox said. “They should make a day of it – or, better yet, a whole weekend of it.”
The mayor said many people wisely bring grills and picnic baskets to the parades.
KDLD’s Marguerite Noel predicted that rental units throughout the town will be booked solid.
“This is really an economic boost for the island,” she said.