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10 Offbeat Places to Celebrate Mardis Gras

Pensacola, Fla.
Still think Mobile's Mardi Gras is a bit much? Need more sponsors in your celebration?

This is where Pensacola comes in. The city's Mardi Gras celebration dates back to 1874 and has the Moon Pies, beads and coins of Mobile's parades, yet doesn't think much of all of New Orleans' and Mobile's more boisterous parties.

While the Carnival krewes in Pensacola hold members-only balls and parties throughout much of February, the larger festivities tend to be a whole lot more family friendly than those of their neighbors on the Gulf. There are walks, runs, scavenger hunts and only two to three parades each year, including an illuminated night parade on the Friday before Mardi Gras, the Grand Parade on Saturday and, in some years, a beach parade on Sunday.

Don't get us wrong, the bars still hold bikini contests and the taps don't stop flowing. MillerCoors and Skyy vodka are still sponsors, after all. It's just that Pensacola's Mardi Gras is a bit more laid back in its scope. The streets close on Fat Tuesday, but there aren't any parades. There are plenty of krewes around town, but not wall-to-wall parties.

It's a great Mardi Gras for harried parents or partiers who can pace themselves. Some years, that's all you need.

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