Catch some color at Yachty Gras Boat Parade
Galveston isn't the only spot around here that celebrates Mardi Gras. Kemah has the Yachty Gras Grand Night Boat Parade.
The event started as a chance for some area residents to throw beads to revelers on the Kemah Boardwalk from boats along the channel, Yachty Gras Executive Director Maurine Howard said.
That just grew into the wonderful parade we have now," said Howard, who has a doctorate degree in administration. We easily have 100,000 people come to this event."
The parade, now in its 11th year, will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Kemah Boardwalk. Admission is free, and revelers are encouraged to arrive by 5:30 or 6 p.m.
When the boats come, the crowd is lined up 10 to 15 people deep on the boardwalk," she said.
Boats will be decorated, Mardi Gras style, and will compete for prizes in private boats, sponsored boats, people's choice and best of show categories. This year's theme is Temptation of the Sea."
Howard said she expects 60 to 100 boats to participate. It's just a wonderful event that's oriented for families," she said.
The parade only is part of the festivities, Howard added. Yachty Gras, Inc. will host a kick-off party at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, at Madeline's Wine Bistro & Piano Lounge, 707 Bradford Ave. in Kemah.
The party is open to the public. Admission, which costs $25 per person, includes hors d'oeuvres, music by Lady D and the Zydeco Tornadoes and dancing.
Also planned are live and silent auctions and a cash bar.
Party proceeds traditionally support area charities. This year, Yachty Gras will support Youth Educational Support Services Inc. and the Jeanette Williams Foundation for Children's Cancer Research and Summer Camps.
Youth Educational Support Services Inc.'s BaySmart program provides at-risk Houston youths with outdoor activities and educational experiences, mostly around Galveston Bay, with adult mentors.
The Kemah-based Jeanette Williams Foundation for Children's Cancer Research strives to raise money to support children's cancer research and for children's summer camp.
The money raised at Yachty Gras will be earmarked for camp," foundation board member Era Lee Caldwell said. It costs $500 a child for camp. They're there with other children with cancer. It makes them know there are others with the same disease."
In addition to her role with the foundation, Caldwell serves on Howard's Yachty Gras committee and has participated in the boat parade as part of the Mystic Krewe du Carnaval.
She and her husband, Harry Caldwell, will return to the parade this year as king and queen of their krewe.
You will not believe the feeling as you throw your beads to the children on the boardwalk," Caldwell said. Their eyes are so wide. It's pretty cool."
For more information about Yachty Gras, call 713-882-4040, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.yachtygras.com.
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