History of Bay County Mardi Gras

The old-timers know that the father of Mardi Gras (in Bay County) is Jerry Castardo. In 1985 the Krewe of Dominique Youx was formed under the guiding hands of Jerry, Eril La Gasse and Joe Williams. Beginning with a membership of fifty men, the annual parade started with little more than a dozen well-decorated golf carts.

The Bay Point celebration was a lot of fun, enjoyed mainly by the residents of Bay Point. The event grew until, in 1997, there were over one-hundred and fifty members. This event had grown into a festival that attracted people from all over Bay County and beyond. It was decided that the event needed a new home, and Jerry went looking for a place to relocate his parade, Jerry first met with a few interested parties in St. Andrews.

The first meeting was held at a The Bayview Cafe on the St. Andrews Marina and present were Jerry Castardo, Bob Wellborn, and Owen Radcliff all of the Dominique Youx Krewe. Lessa Coleman, John McVeigh, and Kathryn Miller represented the community of St. Andrews. When asked if the event was something that they wanted in St. Andrews, there was a resounding YES and the task was undertaken with much enthusiasm by the entire community of St. Andrews.

The first fund raiser was developed to create enough revenue to allow the St. Andrews group to undertake this cause. Local restaurants including La Shack (now the Granite Cafe), Uncle Ernie's, Hunts Oyster Bar, Ferruccis, Chef Imondis, Beck Avenue Cafe, and The Hawks Nest all agreed to donate a course, and a gourmet meal of seven courses was created. More than two dozen musicians agreed to play, tickets were sold and enough money was raised to finance the very first Mardi Gras in St. Andrews.

Immediately after the first meeting was held, Kathryn Miller contacted the group of people who had been working tirelessly in their efforts to revitalize the community of St. Andrews and it was decided that there would be a Krewe of St. Andrews. Robbie and Ellen (of the St. Andrews Coffee house) began working with Connie Head, Terry Rubin, and Kathryn Ziewitz to organize a Krewe. Ginger Littleton was co-chair with Kathryn Miller for what was to become one the biggest and most successful events in the history of the City of Panama City.

In 1998 Bill Smith rented a float and gathered up enough people to participate in the first St. Andrew Mardi Gras parade. The following year Bill Smith built the first of the Krewe of Massalina floats, and the Krewe of Massalina was formed. After participating in the first two Mardi Gras parades in St. Andrews, the Krewe of Massalina decided to expand Mardi Gras by creating a downtown celebration and a night parade.

The very first Krewe of Massalina Mardi Gras Parade was held in the year 2000. From the very beginning, the downtown event met with great success, and this event-- like the St. Andrews event-- continues to grow.

The Krewe of St. Andrews donates generously to the community of St. Andrews and has affected the development of an increased awareness of the wonderful possibilities and the bright future of this neighborhood. The Krewe of Massalina has adopted the Bay District Schools' Music, Arts and Drama programs and donates to them annually. The businesses located in the area of the parades have adapted to the parades by capitalizing on the exposure and enjoying an event that brings out the best in everyone.

What started out as a bunch of guys decorating their golf carts has developed into a Mardi Gras season that causes dozens of business to prosper, thousands of people to benefit from the donations of the Krewes, and tens of thousands of people of all ages to come together in their communities and enjoy the sound of music, the taste of good food, and the company of their neighbors. Happy Mardi Gras! The Krewe of Massalina is a non-profit organization of almost one hundred members who are as diverse and eclectic as Mardi Gras itself. The Krewe welcomes new members all year long. For information, leave a message at 913-8383 or go to WWW.PCKREWE.COM a new membership year begins March 1.