Laissez les bons temps rouler, Downtown!
Downtown Pensacola's annual Mardi Gras celebration is among the oldest in the United States, and Pensacola may very well be the first Florida city to observe Mardi Gras, holding its first celebration in 1874. That year a group of leading local socialites formed a Mardi Gras “krewe” called the Knights of Priscus Association to organize the festivities.
The name Priscus came from Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome who was the first Roman king to wear a purple robe and a golden crown on his head, and who established the circus, a place where games could be held.
Pensacola's early Mardi Gras fizzled after a few years but was revived with gusto in 1900. Priscus remained the title of the festival's ceremonial king, and Alexander Clement Blount II was named the first King Priscus of the new group.
Today Mardi Gras is Pensacola's biggest celebration, replete with krewes, parades, balls and a Grand Mardi Gras Parade that brings 10,000 revelers to the heart of downtown Pensacola each February.
[PHOTO: Visit Pensacola]