DOWNTOWN MOBILE, Ala (WALA) – It is going to feel a lot like Mardi Gras this week in Downtown Mobile with floats set to roll on Friday.

It is all to celebrate the commissioning of the USS Mobile.

“I love it,” said Chico McCollem. “Hey the energy and the people.”

The USS Mobile is the Navy's latest combat ship, built in its namesake city.

McCollem has been taking part in parades for nearly three decades. This time he will not be playing his drums, but you may catch him downtown Friday.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for people to get out after being cooped in and not really getting out in our normal circles and people are going to be able to get out and have a good time.”

21 mystic societies will contribute 29 floats along with some bands. The parade will follow a modified "Route A" starting at the Mobile Civic Center.

“We’re absolutely excited about having Mardi Gras in May, certainly unexpected,” said Elizabeth Broughton, Co-owner Debris Po Boys. “So, any extra is welcomed with open arms.”

With crowds expected, local restaurants are hoping for a boost.

“Not having Mardi Gras is kind of like a hole in our heart,” Broughton said. “We definitely have missed it so this is going to be so nice to have people come out.

With the parade just days away, Toomey’s has seen an increase in business. People have been coming in for weeks picking up beads and other throws. The sales helping after a hard year.

“During the past 14 months-16 months or so it’s been very difficult to make it all work, but this is a real blessing,” said Stephen Toomey, Owner of Toomey’s.

Right now, excitement building before the first throws on Friday.

“I hope that with everything going on with COVID and everything I hope that we can get out and have a good time,” McCollem said.

The parade kicks off at 6:30 on Friday.

The commissioning ceremony is Saturday morning.

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