RUBONIA — The party will continue Sunday in this tiny community north of Palmetto with the 31st annual Mardi Gras parade festival.
“It’s not classy or ostentatious,” said Bill Costello, who has helped organize the event from the beginning, “but we have a lot of goofs, and I’m the biggest one.”
Costello’s description of the participants as “goofs” captured the atmosphere the Mardi Gras has created since friends of Rubonia resident LuAnna Topp first marched down Bayshore Road in 1979 to celebrate her birthday.
Just as they did back then, most of those joining the parade, which kicks off at 2 p.m., dress in wild costumes, ride crazy floats and generally have a rowdy, good time as they march past the more than 20,000 people who line the main street through this community.
“This is going to be great again this year,” Topp said, “It’s taken on a life of it’s own.”
Every year Topp takes on her alter-ego, Ruby Begonia, a blue-haired, red-nosed clown, and creates one of the most outrageous floats.
“This year is going to a big surprise,” Topp said, with the laughter of excitement. “Look for me at the very end.”
What started as a small group with a couple of home-made floats has grown to a day-long festival with entertainment, food and souvenir vendors, and close to 50 parade entries.
It has that funky, casual atmosphere, where the fun seems spontaneous and unplanned.
But the organizers would argue that point.
“I’ll be ready for a vacation when this is over,” said Charles Miller, life-long resident and a leader of the Rubonia Neighborhood Association, which is in charge of the Mardi Gras.
“We’re ready for the big day and everything is going to be fun,” Miller said. “It was hard (to put together), but the community came together to make this happen.”
Read more about Rubonia's Mardi Gras celebration in Saturday's Bradenton Herald.