Each year the town of Fairport Harbor and guests from around the region gather in the small village (approx. 3000 residents) for the annual tradition of Mardi Gras. The first Mardi Gras was held July 4, 1939 and was an outgrowth of the Street Carnivals that began in 1925 and the Water Carnivals that followed begining in 1934. A 1938 Street Party to celebrate the paving of Chestnut Street alluded to the Mardi Gras. A community movement convinced Mayor John O. Rendrick to make this intitial celebration into an annual event. On April 22, 1941 the Mardi Gras was formally incorporated and charged with promoting the welfare of the villagers. Proceeds from the event were to be used to award local scholarships and help underwrite civic causes. The Mardi Gras became an overnight sensation as over 10,000 visitors came to this July 4th weekend event. Seventy-one years later the tradition continues. This year's Mardi Gras kicked off on the Fourth and will culminate with a Fireworks extravaganza at dusk on July 8th. Carnival rides, musical performances, parades, food and fun for all highlight each of the five days. Unique to the 2012 Mardi Gras and in association with the Village Bicentennial is the return of the Fairport Harbor Boat Parade.
July 5th - Mardi Gras Parade - The parade starts at 7pm and will follow its traditional course throughout the village. Grab your blanket and/or lawn chair and find your spot early as the parade attracts an average of 15,000 visitors in some years. Local and County Fire Department Trucks muster for the event. The Fairport Harbor Historical Society will trailer and demonstrate its restored foghorn on the 5th. Lake Metroparks will enter their horse drawn wagon once again. Floats from all over the community and county will be on the streets for what promises to be a two hour 'Slice of Americana.'
July 7th - Boat Parade - The Boat Parade returns after a long absence in this Fairport's Bicentennnial Year. An early staple of the Mardi Gras event, the parade will begin at 6pm from a staging area on the east end of Fairport's Huntington Beach. The boat parade already in excess of 20 vessels will head west along the beach and enter the Grand River channel and head down to Pickle Bill's in Grand River. The boat parade will be led by the USCG and ODNR vessels. The FHYC, GRSC, WRYC, LCMP, and other boating organizations will be entered into the parade too. Boaters desiring to join in this Mardi Gras revivial may do so by contacting boat parade co-chair John Ollila at 4400-346-5613.
The 2012 Mardi Gras - Fun for All! Also worth noting for this coming weekend are the 5K run being held at 9am on July 7th and a party in the park from noon-5pm. Don't forget...join us for the parades July 5th at 7pm and July 7th at 6pm!