Destin Commons celebrates a New Orleans tradition this Friday, Feb. 28, as it presents its fifth annual Mardi Gras Masquerade and Parade.



Families are invited to enjoy the tastes and sounds of the French Quarter as local band Jones & Company kicks off the festivities at 5 p.m. in Center Court. Groovy Grouper will serve complimentary tastings of steaming hot gumbo and AJ’s will share its famous Cajun red beans and rice. 



The fun continues at 8 p.m. as Ted Corcoran, president/CEO of the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, serves as Master of Ceremonies and introduces the nearly 40-float Mardi Gras Parade. The floats, representing various Destin charities and businesses, will make their way down Main Street from Bass Pro Shops to Belk with participants flinging coveted beads and throws to guests.



Throughout the evening, guests can commemorate the festivities with a souvenir caricature from artist Mark Douglas and have their picture taken in the Destin Commons Mardi Gras photo booth. Kids also will enjoy face painting and crafts from Abrakadoodle and marvel at acts by magician and balloon sculptor, Captain Davy. Guests can view event photos on Destin Commons’ website www.destincommons.com.



A CARNIVAL CALENDAR FOR THE COAST



Pardi in Paradise



More than 100 parade entries will roll, float, pedal and push their way down the Destin Harbor Boardwalk from AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar to the west end of HarborWalk Village at the Sixth Annual Mardi Gras Parade at 2 p.m. March 1. Revelers will be entertained by street performers, brass bands, live music and colorful beads at the 2014 celebration. Entry fee for parade of $50 benefits the 33rd Fighter Wing Booster Club.



Mardi Gras Dog Parade



The 11th annual Mardi Gras Dog Parade will be filled with costumed dogs and their humans throwing a myriad of throws, beads, and parade favors at 2 p.m. March 2 at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Themed convertibles, small floats (pulled by masters), golf carts, bicycles, and decorated wagons will be everywhere and Mardi Gras music will fill the air. Free to attend by donation of $5-$10 to participate, with all proceeds will benefit Alaqua Animal Refuge.



Ribbon cutting/street party



Celebrate the opening of Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi and Fat Tuesday with free red beans and rice and a street party through HarborWalk Village from 5-11 p.m. March 4.



Fat Tuesday Baytowne Bash



“Laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll) with the 12th annual Fat Tuesday Baytowne Bash Parade rolling through Sandestin at 5 p.m. March 4 at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Yell “throw me something mister” as unique and colorful floats, golf carts, and pick-up trucks roll down the streets and marchers dressed up in all their Mardi Gras best shower parade-goers with a barrage of beads, moon pies and other trinkets. The post-parade celebration continues into the night with street performers, “throws” tossed from balconies on Main Street, and parties at various Baytowne establishments.