Last weekend’s mardi gras festivities, from dancing down Commerce Street to rocking out at the Armory, were good fun and a big help to Habitat for Humanity.

The Mystic Krewe of Salty Barkers, a parade unit of dogs and their people, led off the Apalachicola Mardi Gras parade as a long queue of marchers weaved their way through downtown, led by Pam Nobles in firefighter gear and trailed by pull wagons, push strollers, and golf cart brightly decorated.

Afterwards the party continues at Riverfront Park with live music, dancing, Cajun food, and other festivities,

Organizer Carolina Ilardi said the day’s events raised about $2,000, and that she saw a large number of visitors from out-of-town who had come down to indulge their party spirit.

The fundraising strength continued Saturday at the Armory, with upwards of another $15,000 coming in, all earmarked to help in the county chapter of Habitat for Humanity’s effort to complete its fourth house, and start a fifth house.

“We are just encouraged, the fundraising was up,” said Don Ashley, who worked closely with his wife Pam, to organize the banquet.

Beads were thrown from the balconies, food and beverages abounded, and the reign of King and Queen Mason and Marilyn Bean gave way to the crowning of the new one, Ken and Kim Fish.

Ashley said the Habitat board chose the new royalty in large part due to the longstanding support that the Fishs’ business, Taylors Building Supply, has had for Habitat for more than the past decade.

“They’ve been involved one way or another in every single Habitat build,” he said.

The event filled the Armory with about 120 people, based on 20 tables of six persons each. “We had ore gross than the previous year, and more sponsors,” said Ashley. “We had never had so many items in our silent auction, over 50 items.”

David Butler emceed the evening, and performing were the Brian Bowen Band, the Dirty T-shirt Band, Smokey Parrish, Candi Robertson and the Hot Flashes dancers, with their red-hot number ending when firefighter Ashley teat walked out and spread the floor with a mock extinguisher.

Habitat has completed three homes in the county and is about to finish its fourth, on a lot in Eastpoint donated by Cadence Bank.

Centennial Bank has donated the lot for a fifth house, also in Eastpoint’s Magnolia Ridge neighborhood.

Centennial banker Donnie Gay told the audience that there was enough Habitat money to complete the fourth house, but the question was “How much will be left to put towards the fifth?” -  DAVID ADLERSTEIN