Fat Tuesday offers celebrations all over Central Florida and can be a fun time to get out with friends on a week night. Many vacationers and locals will flock to the normal venues of Universal, Sea World, Downtown Orlando and Disney, but this Tuesday, I’ll be in the quaint town of New Smyrna Beach (NSB) for their Mardi Gras parade and street celebration.
It’s not the big fanfare you’d expect from the ‘big boys’ in the region, but a small-town parade is what many vacationers would treasure should they happen to stumble upon it. NSB’s parade is all of about 7 blocks long down beach side’s Flagler Avenue. Leading the parade at 7:00 p.m. will be a local motorcycle group followed by a string of residents and school groups on floats, golf carts, antique cars, Segways and on foot; throwing out candy, beads and showing off some crazy outfits. Just to show NSB could keep up with the big boys if they really wanted to, the Budweiser Clydesdales are rumored to be completing this year’s parade.
The fact that many don’t think of this as a place to celebrate Mardi Gras is exactly why you’ll be glad you did. It’s not overly crowded, it’s fun, it’s real, it’s inexpensive; small-town America. People are friendly and downright neighborly. There are many wonderful restaurants to dine at before the parade, plenty of bars to party at afterward, and hotels and B&B’s to spend the night. Just come early and expect to walk a few blocks due to the lack of parking.
Oh, and did I mention the beach? And the shops? And the art shows? Guess I’ll have to write about those some other time. Spend this Tuesday in NSB and be sure to catch some beads and a piece of small town charm. Wednesday will be here soon enough and you can go back to the crowds, standing in line and fighting the traffic.