BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Not much time separates Christmas and Mardi Gras. Every year, the Gulf Coast Carnival Association helps signal the switch in holiday seasons. They gather the day before the twelfth night after Christmas to turn off the holiday lights wrapped around the Biloxi Lighthouse.
This year, the Twelfth Night celebration - which signals that start of Mardi Gras - was held one night early in Biloxi to better accommodate for families. It’s a carnival tradition looked forward to by many on the Coast.
Twelfth Night celebrations may have begun a night early but event coordinator Andi Oustalet is just excited to kick off this beloved time.
“It is what we do. We end the Christmas season the twelfth night and then it officially kicks off the Mardi Gras season that takes us all the way through Lent," said event coordinator Andi Oustalet. “So we start the party tonight and it rolls on until Fat Tuesday.”
Starting the party is right as many look forward to the months of Mardi Gras all year long.
“This is the best time of the year for a lot of these people. This is what we live for. It is a huge turnout," said Keith Wade. "I don’t think we could have asked for anything better. Perfect weather, everybody is ready.”
While everybody was ready to celebrate, what makes it special for Susan Hunt is the tradition.
“Mardi Gras is very special to me because my grandfather started the Gulf Coast Carnival Association," said Hunt. “So I go back a long, long way. My grandfather was a captain. My daddy was a captain. So we grew up with it in my home and it is very very special to me.”
The mix of tradition and celebration just adds to the amazement for Oustalet.
“It is amazing to me when we turn the lights on at City Hall," said Oustalet. “Mayor Gilich has been very supportive of us and we are so happy that he has agreed again to let us do that fabulous lighting on City Hall. So all the people that are waiting, anticipating this, that’s what this party is all about.”
Once City Hall was lit in Mardi Gras colors, the party kicked into high gear.
Twelfth Night is a celebration more than 1,400 years old and was originally proclaimed to observe the day when the three wise men visited the infant Jesus.