According to custom, Shrove Tuesday (“Fat Tuesday” to the English-speaking settlers, “Mardi Gras” to the French) is the last day to indulge, or overindulge, before Lent and its 40 days of fasting. The celebrations that take place before Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Mobile, and Galveston set off a carnival season that is notorious.
The Mardi Gras tradition came to Panama City in 1986 when a group of local residents headed by Errol Legasse and the late Jerry Castardo decided that we should not miss out on the excitement of Mardi Gras and formed the Krewe of Dominique Youx.
Dominique Youx is the nickname used by the eldest member of the famous Lafitte family of buccaneers who sailed the southern seas in the early 1800’s plundering vessels of those deemed to be their enemies. Dominique Youx was actually Fredric Alexander Lafitte, brother of Jean and Pierre Lafitte. He was the first of the Brothers to become a buccaneer. He was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte as a privateer and served for France during the war with Spain. When the Lafitte’s moved to New Orleans, the charismatic Jean Lafitte organized hundreds of rogues into a band of pirates who became the scourge of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Local rumor has it that some of their loot is still hidden in the estuary of St.Andrew Bay.
The present day Krewe of Dominique Youx, like other famous Mardi Gras Krewes, celebrates the season in a carnival atmosphere. For the first time, the krewe will parade on Panama City Beach. Pirates dressed in colorful costumes will be throwing beads to revelers along the parade route beginning at Hill Road, proceeding down Front Beach Road, and into Pier Park. This year, King Rob Fernandez (Dominique Youx XXII) and his Queen, Joyce Muller, will spearhead the Krewe as beads, doubloons, and other throws are tossed to the huge crowds lining the parade route. This parade is free to the public and suitable for the whole family.
In Panama City Beach, the season begins in mid-November with a black-tie evening celebration. The Krewe presents a local, non-member dignitary with the “Baratarian Cup”, a Mardi Gras honor unique to Panama City. This year’s recipient is Robert “Bob” Myers. Bob was an Air Force officer who settled down in Bay county after retiring and over the years became one of Bay County’s most prolific charity volunteers. Bob will lead this year’s parade as Grand Marshall.
The Krewe also holds a formal, costumed Mardi Gras Ball for the coronation of the new King, Queen and court members for the following year.
The Krewe of Dominique Youx is self-financing, paying for its own equipment, floats, costumes, as well as the beads and doubloons thrown to the watching parade crowds.
The Panama City Krewe of Dominique Youx is proud to use the name of an historic buccaneer to promote the carnival spirit of Mardi Gras for the enjoyment of the people of Bay County.