The Good Times Roll at Lake Wales Mardi Gras
by James Coulter
The good times rolled once again through downtown with the annual Lake Wales Mardi Gras last weekend.
On Friday and Saturday, attendees gathered along the shores of Lake Wailes to celebrate with live music, food trucks, and local vendors.
The big highlight of the two-day event was the parade on Saturday at 3 p.m., with more than 23 parade units traveling through downtown Lake Wales and to Lake Wailes Park.
Floats and other units included various krewes from the local community, along with local fire and rescue and even the Polk County Sheriff’s Office with the Honorable Grady Judd.
Participants dressed in traditional gold, purple, and green, and tossed beaded necklaces and candy to spectators lined along Main Street and the other roadways during the parade.
Perhaps most remarkable was the return of the fireworks display on Saturday evening, making this year’s event the first in 39 years to include fireworks.
For nearly 40 years, Lake Wales Mardi Gras has been the staple Mardi Gras celebration in Polk County. What started as a procession in memory of a local business owner has since evolved into an annual local tradition.
Joshua Churchy, the head of the Lake Wales Mardi Gras Committee, has been supervising the event for many years. He and his team participated in a float themed to Alice in Wonderland. Churchy dressed as the Mad Hatter.
“Our goal is to give as much back as we can to the community,” he said. “Everyone gets a chance to unwind and have fun. The weather is beautiful. And we have awesome participation…We expect thousands of people down there. It is all around a family-friendly event.”