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In the fall of 2011, a group of animal-loving, fun-loving folks in the small coastal town of Apalachicola, Florida, decided to help renew an old tradition. At the dawn of the 20th century, Apalachicola celebrated Mardi Gras in much the same way as other bigger Gulf cities like New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. There were three days of brass bands, costumed characters, and boisterous parades. Mardi Gras royalty arrived by boat and floats were decorated with palmetto fronds and camellias.
The serious years of World War II put a complete stop to the celebration. For 60 years there were no Mardi Gras festivals in Apalachicola. Now Mardi Gras is making a comeback in the form of a “barkus” parade, a procession of costumed canines and their owners, zydeco music, and lots of beads.
Each year the Krewe chooses a theme, a local celebrity to be Grand Marshal, and a canine king and queen, usually Shelter animals in need of a forever home. Past themes have included “Noah’s Bark”, “Puttin’ on the Dog”, and “Sea Dogs”. With a theme of “Barkaritaville”, the 2015 parade, was Mardi Gras island-style. The tradition continued in 2016, with the theme “Woofstock” inspiring a parade of hippie canines and their flower-loving folks. The 2017 parade with the theme “Bark Side of the Moon” was truly an out-of-this world experience. The 2018 parade with the “Bourbone Street” theme is sure to be just as much fun!
After winding through downtown, the parade ends at a fais do-do, a public party with live music, dancing, Cajun food, a professional photographer, contests, auctions, games, and more beads.
Proceeds from all Krewe events are for the benefit of the animals of Franklin County.
In addition to private events, the Krewe participates in other parades and hosts fundraisers including pet shows at local festivals.