The thrills of Broadway will come to the streets of Downtown Orange Saturday as the Grande Parade of the annual Mardi Gras Festival travels the streets with floats decorated for famous musicals.

“Chicago’s” Velma and Roxie, along with Simba, “The Lion King,” will be tossing a bit of bling to the crowd along the route as thousands of glittering necklaces are thrown.
The Krewe of Krewes Grande Parade begins at 5 p.m. Saturday from Simmons Drive and the city of Orange’s riverfront recreation area. The parade will travel a square pattern around the historic downtown district before returning to Simmons Drive.
The parade is the highlight of the Mardi Gras Festival, which begins on Thursday evening and will include a traditional Courir du Mardi Gras, a Munchkin Parade for children, the Ms. Fat Tuesday Mock Beauty Pageant, a rubber duck derby and the annual Gumbo Cook-off.

The festival is sponsored by the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce. Orange holds its Mardi Gras weekend a week early so not to compete with other celebrations in the area. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before the Lenten Season begins, is always held 46 days before Easter.

This year will be the seventh year for the local Mardi Gras, and since the beginning, the parade has gotten larger with more elaborate floats. Members of the Krewes, groups of friends who design and build floats together, had a grande ball earlier this month. Kevin and Angie Williams of the Krewe Bon Amis were crowned king and queen for 2008.

The festival grounds off Simmons Drive will open at 5 p.m. Thursday with the carnival.
The Courir du Mardi Gras, based on the tradition of people traveling by horseback asking for donations to a gumbo pot, will end at 3 p.m. Friday at the festival grounds. The gates will open to the public at 5 p.m.

The Muchkin Parade, with children riding in homemade floats from wagons and other small, wheeled vehicles, will begin at 7 p.m. After the Munchkin Parade, the Ms. Fat Tuesday Mock Beauty Pageant, featuring men dressed as women beauty queens, will start at 8 p.m.

On Saturday, the festival gates will open at 11 a.m. and judging for the Gumbo Cook-off will start at noon.
The rubber ducky derby, a race between floating, toy ducks on the Sabine River, will start at 2 p.m. The winner of the derby will receive a 32-inch LCD HDTV. Tickets to buy a ducky are $5 each and are available at Texas State Bank, MCT Credit Union and the chamber office on Green Avenue.

Winners of the derby and the Gumbo Cook-off will be announced at 3 p.m.
The Grande Parade will begin at 5 p.m. by the festival grounds on Simmons Drive. The route will travel south on Simmons, then west on Green Avenue. At Second Street, the parade will turn south to Front Street, and then travel west on Front Street to the Plaza Parkway by the Orange Police Department building. The parade will go north on Plaza Parkway to Green Avenue, then circle back east on Green to Simmons Drive.