The ninth annual Mardi Gras Tybee is a winter celebration to shake off the cold and warm up for a busy spring on the island.
"This event is not just for the locals, though," organizer Christy Alan points out. "This is for any and everyone visiting or local to Tybee and Savannah. Every year I am more amazed at the efforts put on by people with their costuming, decorations and attention to detail."
Mardi Gras Tybee began in 2009 after the success of the Tybee Island Pirate Fest. Alan says the group that began that event wanted to "stay to their mission of creating events in the off/shoulder seasons to help bolster tourism during the slower times of the year."
This year's event, set for noon-6 p.m. Feb. 10, starts with a street party and parade, followed by another street party featuring live music, as well as a five-category costume contest with prizes for pets, prince, princess, king, queen and krewe.
"Social media has influenced people to not only dress up, but fosters the vibe of a fun, family-friendly event which keeps growing" Alan says. "The different 'krewes' are a large part of the festivities, and businesses on Tybee get in on the act, showing off their individual themes and colors for those participating."
The parade starts at Memorial Park, with the floats lined up on 4th Street. Even locally known celebrities join the party, such as the Tybee Island Beach Brigade. These ladies come to most of Tybee's events, armed with their ever-present lawn chairs and vocal support of the community.
The big party in the middle of Tybee's "winter" will include music from DJ Arte at noon, and live music later in the day from Alan's group, The Christy Alan Band featuring Charlie Sherrill, a saxophone and flute player. The band will be playing traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras songs, along with zydeco and dance music to keep the party moving full steam ahead.
Summing up the event will be a street party with group line dances at the roundabout by the pier. The day ends with a dance party filling some of the streets of Tybee Island.
"Bring the kids, the dogs and your friends," Alan says. "Watch the parade, dance in the street, get a T-shirt and eat some gumbo!"
IF YOU GO
What: Mardi Gras Tybee
When: Noon- 6 p.m. Feb. 10
Where: Memorial Park, Tybee Island
Cost: Free, family- and pet-friendly
Info: mardigrastybee.com, 912-786-5444
Noon-2 p.m. Street party and DJ Arte
2 p.m. Parade (City Hall to Tybrisa roundabout)
3 p.m. Street dance with The Christy Alan Band
4 p.m. Costume contest
4:30-6 p.m. Dance music