This year marks the closest that Mardi Gras will come to St. Patrick's Day until 2038, when Fat Tuesday falls on March 9.
Besides revelry at local establishments across the area, bigger celebrations include an annual parade and celebration on the Grand Strand's north end, an inaugural extravaganza on the south side and festivities in several restaurants at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, site of the Mardi Gras Pub Crawl.
Dick's Last Resort at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach will have its 19th annual Fat Tuesday Party this Tuesday.
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Paul Siaweleski, general manager at Dick's, said a parade, with about 20 to 30 floats, will step off at 5 p.m. and march through Barefoot Landing.
"There are more floats this year," he said Monday. "It gets bigger every year."
Siaweleski said no entry fee is charged, and participants include the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach and a group of children from Risen Christ Lutheran Church.
"It's just local businesses around here," he said, promoting the competition for best and worst floats. "We just add a few more every year. Just the parade itself, it's amazing how many people show up for it."
The party afterward makes up the other big half of Dick's shindig.
Sawgrass, a band formed in Pawleys Island and blending bluegrass, newgrass and jam-band styles into what the group has calls "AcoustiLectric BlueGrass," will entertain for the evening, starting at 6 p.m.
Siaweleski touted two new parts of the party. The winner of a crawfish-eating contest will take home a $100 Dick's gift certificate, and a Gator Bites appetizer will debut, with fried alligator in the ingredients.
Dick's staff of about 25 people always "fluffs it up" for Mardi Gras, Siaweleski said, grateful for the local and tourist support since the early 1990s.
He said with Lent starting later than usual this year, Dick's started fielding calls earlier in February from people wondering when the party would take place, especially because many visitors like to finish their Strand vacation with the celebration.
"We're just having fun," he said.
Broadway at the Beach
Fat Tuesday and Celebrations at Broadway at the Beach both have festivities planned on Tuesday, said Monique Newton, public relations associate.
Fat Tuesday opens at noon and will be offering free bowls of the Lousiana staple jambalaya while supplies last. Happy hour will take place from 4-8 p.m. offering beer and liquor specials. And starting at 9 p.m., a Budweiser promo will include a giveaway, a frozen T-shirt contest and appearances from the Budweiser Girls.
Celebrations' events start on Saturday, with the Malibu Girls making an appearance at Froggy Bottomz.
To continue the fun, Malibu's Surf Bar will host a Mardi Gras party on Tuesday with beads, drink specials, T-shirts, koozies and giveaways starting at 9 p.m.
A pub crawl will start outside the surf bar, which will meander its way to Broadway Louie's and Fat Tuesday before heading back to Malibu's. This event is free and starts at 7 p.m., and all participants will receive a free T-shirt.
For Marshi Gras on the Marsh Walk in Murrells Inlet, a parade will start at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bovine's, on U.S. 17 Business, led by the Dawgs of Dixie Band. The best costumes will generate a $1,000 cash prize for first place, $500 for second place.
Michael Campbell is general manager of Dead Dog Saloon, one of eight restaurants teaming up for Marshi Gras. All other six Marsh Walk eateries also will take part: Capt. Dave's Dockside, CreekRatz, Divine Fish House, Drunken Jack's, Spud's Waterfront Dining and Wahoo's.
He said every month, officials from the restaurants meet in a Marsh Walk committee and discuss ideas about how to promote the Marsh Walk year-round, including an affair timed for the eve of Ash Wednesday.
"This event was kicked around last year, but we never got it going," Campbell said.
Yet, he said success from the annual joint-effort Halloween party fueled the initiative for Marshi Gras.
"We're using the same model," Campbell said.
A parade will start on the Marsh Walk, not the street, and go for an hour as a lead-in to the evening, where officials hope everyone will mingle and frequent the businesses along the boardwalk and enjoy live entertainment.
"Hopefully, it will bring a lot of the local community together," Campbell said, stressing, "The biggest thing was that the south end didn't have anything."
Officials have received feedback about local residents who want to stay closer to home for this kind of celebration. Fat Tuesday arriving later this year, on the cusp of spring, also added a push.
"We said, 'Hey, we're all here. It's early spring. Let's get this Marshi Gras going,'" Campbell recalled.
The marketing has taken various avenues from TV ads to the posting of fliers among Marsh Walk retailers.
"Everybody's getting all jazzed up about it," Campbell said.
With St. Patrick's Day a week and half later, and a late Easter on April 24, spring is spread out with opportunities to market the Marsh Walk. Campbell said spring break happens in mid-March for colleges, then school districts take a week off in late April.
"Hopefully, we'll get the momentum going early into the season," he said.
He said overall, the Marsh Walk is "coming alive" with more live bands entertaining at eateries and a higher quality of music.
"All along the Marsh Walk, the live music is starting to be a common thing at many places," Campbell said. "It's becoming more nightlife this year."