The 11th Annual Mardi Gras on the Island begins at 11 a.m. Jan. 18 on Okaloosa Island. Spectators may bring seating and view the parade at any point along the route. It's always a good idea to bring a bag for all the beads and other throws you'll receive. Block party at Helen Back afterward.
Here is the lineup for the parade:
The parade route runs from Tarpon Drive on the Island, moving eastward toward Highway 98. It will end at the Tom Thumb.
Santa Rosa Boulevard will remain open to traffic during the parade, but traffic will be redirected onto the southern side (usually eastbound side) of the median, beginning at 10 a.m. The road will reopen with regular traffic patterns as soon as the last float has passed Tom Thumb.
There is free parking available at the Boardwalk. There will be free shuttle service provided by All Star Shuttle Service for parade participants, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Handicapped parking will be available at Gulf Dunes, 376 Santa Rosa Blvd.
For parade participants — key safety items to keep in mind are:
• When staging your parade entry, keep the westbound left lane open so emergency vehicles can get to calls for service
• Drivers of floats must yield to EMS/FD at the Fire Station entrance on South Santa Rosa Boulevard
• No alcohol on the floats
• Drivers must be completely sober
• Throw beads, candy, etc., well away from the floats to keep people from getting close to the wheels
• All floats follow the prescribed route and no one stops to unload floats until they reach Marler Park lot to prevent traffic jams on North Santa Rosa Boulevard.
For more information, contact the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce at 850-244-8191.