Pier Park Mardi Gras Parade Draws Thousands

PANAMA CITY BEACH - Thousands of people filled Pier Park Drive to get beads and other items. More than 80 floats from all over Northwest Florida were part of this year's main parade.

Officials estimate more than 50,000 people showed up to tonight's parade. Bay County residents and out of towners seemed to enjoy the Mardi Gras festivities.

"This is awesome, you know, a great event. Coming from South Florida, we get a lot of this, but here in North Florida, it's a great community involvement," said Kate Ludvigsen, a Bay County resident.

"The floats actually were a lot better this year. They were a lot bigger and every year it's like double since we've been coming here," said Jeremy Hoving, a Panama City resident.

Organizers believe the new music festival and good weather helped contribute to this year's record turnout.