RUBONIA, FLA. - Thousands of people lined Bayshore Drive on Sunday in the little community of Rubonia.
“We average between 12 to 15,000, we’ve gotten up to over 25,000 in recent years. As long as it is a good day, people are going to come,” said Charles Miller, Jr., this year’s president of the 35 annual Rubonia-Terra Ceia Mardi Gras Festival.
Miller said the festival started 35 years ago as a birthday celebration for a local resident.
Charles Miller, Jr., “Her and some friends marched down through the street in our community and it just kind of spilled over into the community.”
The birthday celebration morphed into a Mardi Gras festival that gives back to the community by raising funds for the Rubonia Community Center.
“People don’t miss it,” said Dirk Lequia who has been attending the party for 34 of the last 35 years. He said people drive from miles around just to attend the annual event.
“I have had people come all the way from California before,” said Lequia.
Thomas Pierce and his friends design and sell Rubonia Mardi Gras tee shirts for the party.
“It is the best day of the year. If they had it every Sunday we would be here every Sunday,” said Pierce.
Event organizers have kept the huge party a family friendly event.
“It is not the New Orleans Mardi Gras it is the edited one which is always good because you can have your family involved,” said volunteer Jannie Mitchell.
Bob Balch arrived early to get a good seat for the parade. He and his wife come for the food and to people watch.
“You see a lot of unusual people,” Balch said with a laugh.
Dick Sweeney discovered the Mardi Gras festival four years ago and says his favorite part is the parade.
“You never know what you are going to see in this parade. You’ll probably see the Harry Krishnas this year. You don’t know.”