I arrived in Millbrook at 10:48 a.m. for the Mardi Gras parade. I parked at the Presbyterian church.

The first person to greet me was wearing a Carnevale mask and cape. They immediately informed me they were Episcopalians, then asked if I wanted a beer.

“But,” I replied, “it’s not even 11 o’clock in the morning.”

“The Lord doesn’t live by Earth Time,” came the response.

A cold aluminum can was placed into my hand. I was ushered into a parade vehicle by a Millbrook policeman. My chariot was a snazzy Pontiac convertible, driven by the preacher’s wife, Miss Judy.

I rode atop the vehicle, waving to the crowd like a dork. I could see the looks on people’s faces as I passed by. Most were thinking, “Who is this idiot?”

My driver was cheerfully shifting gears. Happy as a clam.

“Are you an Episcopalian, too?” I asked Miss Judy.

“I am today,” she said, gunning the engine. “Hold on tight.”

Millbrook, Alabama, has been throwing a Mardi Gras parade for 18 years. This celebration is no small affair. This is the largest Mardi Gras celebration north of the coast. “Southern Living” wrote about this parade once and said, quote, “These people are nuts.”

Which might not be a direct quote. But I, for one, can assure you that the people who throw this party are, indeed, bat-dookie crazy.

The Revelers Mardi Gras krewe is made up of approximately 120 folks who are deeply committed to fun. Most of them are in costume. Many have flammable breath.

“We maintain several floats, and we throw, literally, thousands of Moonpies and beads,” said one woman. “You throw so many Moonpies your arms are sore the next day.”

So I was excited. Mainly, because this is only the second parade I’ve ever been in.

My first parade happened when I was 13. I was a member of—this is true—the pitchfork drill team. Our team performed routines based on military exhibition drills, using only pitchforks. Two of our team members sustained puncture wounds that year (also true).

Today, however, my primary job was to throw beads. And I’ll be honest. I was skeptical about throwing beads in a family-centric parade. Namely, because I’ve attended many bead-intensive parades in New Orleans.

In New Orleans, hordes of wild college-age parade goers crowd the sidewalks, begging for beads. Whenever a float passes, college girls shout, “THROW ME SOME BEADS!”

Whereupon, young males riding floats reply to the young women, “SHOW US YOUR…!”

At which point, something very un-Baptist-like happens.

Thankfully, this parade wasn’t like that. This was a G-rated parade. My parade vehicle, for example, was driven by the Methodist preacher’s spouse. And on our stereo the Gaithers were singing “He Touched Me” as I threw beads.

When we first began our route, we were greeted by hordes of children, all begging for beads. They lined the Alabamian highway. Three deep. There were well over 10,000 people in attendance. The crowds screamed loud enough to alter the weather.

They came from all over the nation. Some came from Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama. One family came from as far away as New Albany, Indiana.

“Millbrook is the closest town where we Catholics can celebrate a proper Mardi Gras.”

I met another family from West Virginia. “It’s only an 11-hour drive for us. We make a weekend out of it.”

I met one family with a little girl named Margie. Margie was born with spina bifida. She walks with forearm crutches, and doctors say she might not be able to walk much longer if her condition worsens.

This was her fourth year attending the parade. Margie wears a colostomy bag and has a hard time speaking. But she got the words out.

“This parade is so fun,” she said. “I love it when they throw stuffed animals.”

I gave her some beads. Then we hugged. “I love Mardi Gras!” she shouted. “This is the greatest day of my entire life!”

I asked Margie why she loves this particular holiday so much.

“Because we’re Episcopalian,” explained her mother.



  1. Linda Halfpop - February 5, 2023 6:51 am

    OMG…I’m crying and laughing…jeez!!!!

  2. Margaret Baasch - February 5, 2023 6:55 am

    Love this guy calls it as he sees it!

  3. Suellen - February 5, 2023 11:35 am

    Not often that my hometown of New Albany Indiana gets a mention. We moved back home to New Albany 3 years ago and I love it here.

  4. Carla - February 5, 2023 1:00 pm

    You should come to Jefferson TX Mardi Gras. Lots of Episcopalians here also.

  5. mccutchen52 - February 5, 2023 1:12 pm

    Maybe I need to go to a Mardi Gras parade. Its one of those things my brother and I talked about, along with some other sites but he died and I am 70 now. The beach doesn’t seem so bad now.

  6. John Maddox - February 5, 2023 1:28 pm

    Think I’ll keep this one!

  7. Trent - February 5, 2023 1:31 pm

    Come on down to Dothan’s MGP on the 18th Sean…likely to be a few Episcopalians this way, too. LA loves you buddy.

  8. sjhl7 - February 5, 2023 1:57 pm

    Thanks for the education … I have never been to a Mardi Gras parade in all my 75 years! Maybe next year!

  9. David in California - February 5, 2023 2:27 pm

    Now I want a moon pie (but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in Southern California).

  10. Donald Snyder - February 5, 2023 2:48 pm

    And Also With All Y’all!!

  11. Anne Arthur - February 5, 2023 5:15 pm

    Oh Sean, you made my day.

  12. Melissa Brown - February 5, 2023 5:20 pm

    OMG, l love your post Today. I have got to go to one of these parades in Millbrook. You are such a great writer. You make me smile through my physical pain. My husband and l have tickets to see you in Panama City in March. I so hope to get a picture with you. I wanted to go to see you at the Grand Ole Opry, but did not think l could manage all the walking. Have a Great Day, Sean !!!

  13. Patricia Gibson - February 5, 2023 6:45 pm

    Lovely story❤️💕

  14. Ronn Langford - February 5, 2023 6:49 pm

    Wow !! I have tears of joy for Margie right now!!! Thank you for sharing!!

  15. Becky Souders - February 5, 2023 7:24 pm

    Bat dookie, huh? Love it. Keep writing, Sean Dietrich; you’re a blessing!

  16. Kathy - February 5, 2023 8:03 pm

    I’ve attended the Mardi Gras parade in Mobile. It is definitely family-friendly. When I ask about the bead procedure, I was told it was G-rated; after all this was Mobile, which has had a Mardi Gras celebration longer than New Orleans.

  17. Linda Moon - February 5, 2023 8:24 pm

    So, you parked at a church today. So did I, then I went in. Congratulations on being in the Mardi Gras Parade with the Piskeis!

  18. Steve McCaleb - February 5, 2023 8:44 pm

    We Alabamians will have a parade at the drop of a hat or a dirty JohnDeere cap as it were.Anything that calls for chicken frying, beer drinking, cow pie checkers, horseshoes, washer throwing, swapping long repeated stories from the war of Northern Aggression, and everybody’s favorite “Who Left”?. This game involves starting with a stone gallon crock of home distilled “Liver Quiver” in the bed of a 1958 International Kaybinder pickup. 3 men build a fire and stand around swapping lies with a different man going to the pickup and taking a long pull of the pop skull every 5 minutes. After exactly 30 minutes one of the men leaves to get his drink ……and the other 2 try to figger out “who left”? Trust me, there are No winners to this game. Last time I played my hair hurt for 2 weeks. It’ll put you where you don’t know whether to to scratch your watch or wind your butt. Greeting and salutations from garden spot of the world.

  19. Mary-Kay ❣️ - February 5, 2023 9:52 pm


  20. Judy - February 5, 2023 11:51 pm


  21. Pat Deas - February 6, 2023 2:52 am

    You are talking about Millbrook Alabama just a short drive east of Slapout Alabama aren’t you! What A Funny Funny man you are ,we need all the humor we can get these days,you should have taken Marigold with you in the parade car!

  22. Dicki - February 6, 2023 11:24 am

    Sean I hate to ask you to deal with customer service but I did not receive your column today. I usually read it with my morning coffee and I miss it.

  23. Carol - February 6, 2023 8:58 pm

    Love it! Some People Just Know How To Party!


Leave a Comment