Gulf Shores changes Mardi Gras parade route over safety concerns and logistics

Gulf Shores changes Mardi Gras parade route over safety concerns and logistics.
Updated: Feb. 1, 2022 at 6:00 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Fat Tuesday is still a month away, but Mardi Gras fever is already spreading across the gulf coast. The Gulf Shores Mardi Gras Parade is returning after taking last year off because of COVID but the parade route is changing permanently.

Fat Tuesday in Gulf Shores is a huge party, that before covid was growing bigger every year. With more visitors and residents moving in annually, it’s no surprise. That’s one of the reasons the city is moving the parade from the original route, down Highway 59 to instead, run along Beach Boulevard. It will make the parade more accessible and allow residents and first responders to easily get out of town if they need to.

“We now have eight-foot-wide sidewalks. We have medians in the roadway. We have routes to detour around that road through Gulf State Park and through other boulevards and avenues. It just makes really good sense to do it,” explained Grant Brown with the city of Gulf Shores.

The new route is one Gulf Shores used once before, in 2018 when a bridge on Highway 59 was under repair. Parade entries will line up west of The Hangout on Beach Boulevard. The parade will go east from there, down to Gulf State Park Pier Road. The distance is only slightly shorter than the previous route but should offer spectators a great vantage point.

“A lot of the spectators that are here in the winter are staying in the condominiums that are along the parade route,” Brown pointed out. “They don’t even have to get in their vehicles. They can just walk out to the sidewalks and enjoy the parade.”

Joan and Jim Hanneman will be able to do just that. They’re visiting from Wisconsin for three months and staying on Beach Boulevard. It will be their first Mardi Gras and having it outside their front door is a bonus.

“We’ll appreciate it because we’re on the beach road. We’re right here, yeah. So, we can just stand outside our condo and watch it,” said Joan Hanneman.

The move also sits well with the folks at Surf Style’s Trading Company and Island Market. This will be the first Mardi Gras since the store opened. It’s right at the starting point of the parade and the employees are excited to welcome all the revelers.

“Very excited…hoping that we get a lot of crowds out front, lined up, waiting for the parade,” said Sales Manager, Robin McCusker. “They can come in, get something to drink, something to snack on, shop around. We’re very excited.”

It’s an accurate description of how most feel about the return of Mardi Gras in Gulf Shores. The parade will roll March 1, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. As Fat Tuesday draws nearer, the city will put out notices on how to best access the parade and where to park. The large grassy lots on the north side of Beach Boulevard as well as some of the public beach parking lots will all be open for visitors.