Residents of Apalachicola, Fla., filled the streets wearing festive beads to celebrate their annual Mardi Gras parade, whose benefits go toward the Franklin County Humane Society and the Apalachicola Dog Park. The parade has been happening for the past four years.
According to the Mystic Krewe of Salty Barkers, Mardi Gras has had a rich history with Apalachicola since the early 20th century. World War II abruptly halted the tradition for almost 60 years. The Krewe came together in 2011 to bring back the tradition, utilizing a new theme each year.
Carolyn Hatchell, director of Mystic Krewe of Salty Barkers, said the proceeds of today’s festival would go toward day-to-day functions. One of those functions was financing the spay and neuter program. The money is for a cause “we all love and value,” Hatchell said.
“We raised a bit more than $2,000 today. We’re estimating that we will have several hundred dollars more to make improvements at the dog park,” Hatchell said.
The dog park has been operational for two years. “Our Krewe functions as a ‘friends of the park’ organization,” Hatchell said.
While spectators cheered along to the bluesy tunes, their furry pets dawned their own unique attire of Mardi Gras beads and paint. Community members from various establishments, firms and even Apalachicola’s Mayor Van Johnson, worked together to make this festival a success.
“Local support has been overwhelming and we are very grateful. The local golf cart rental business loaned golf carts so we could assist handicapped visitors to be in the parade. Music was provided by Mayor Van Johnson and two other volunteer bands, one from Tallahassee,” Hatchell said.
Matt Gardi, owner of Browery Station, said he was excited about the community coming together. “This is one of those events where everyone comes together to raise money for the humane society, particularly the animal shelter in Apalachicola,” Gardi said.
Browery Station, the final stop of the festival, had some historic significance as well. Gardi explained the store was originally a marine hardware store for almost 100 years.
“People really appreciate the fact that we’ve kept the character of the building intact,” Gardi said.
Pamela Lewis, Lieutenant and road officer for the Apalachicola Police Department, proclaimed the people in this community love animals.
“We are in full support of the humane society. This Mardi Gras parade, that is held annually, helps bring much needed awareness concerning all of the animals in the county,” Lt. Lewis said.