In 1984 the Lake Wales Mardi Gras was created in memory of Vinton Davis, owner and operator of Vinton’s New Orleans Restaurant along with his wife. Vinton was quite a character and loved carnivals and particularly Mardi Gras in New Orleans. In fact, at one time he did join a carnival leaving his wife to run the business.
When Vinton died, his daughter Nancy Estes and his wife Nettie wanted a traditional New Orleans funeral with the parading of the casket with jazz bands and mourners. Unfortunately they could not do that so they decided to have a parade in his memory and call it the Lake Wales Mardi Gras. With the help of his step-son Jim Bernhardt, Netties brother Ed, friend Robert Connors and a handful of others, the Lake Wales Mardi Gras was planned.
The first Mardi Gras parade consisted of one band (Al’s Place Band), four Krewes (The Mystick Krewe of Rex, the Mystick and fair Krewe of Aphrodite, Royal Order of the Red Swans and the Loyal order of Wild Shiners) and several marching revelers. They formed before a crowd of a couple of hundred spectators. Today we parade with over a dozen floats and krewes and march for about 50,000 spectators.
Nettie Davis - owner of world famous Vinton's Restaurant in the French Quarter of Lake Wales - beautiful lady who exuded hospitality to all who came in contact with her - she co-founded Lake Wales Mardi Gras in honor of her husband Vinton Davis who passed away and requested a celebration of music and dance -- passed away December 1, 2001.
Marc McClernan - promoter and president of Mardi Gras for many years -- co-hosted "Your Show" with Pat Turner on WIPC radio 1280 AM -- many Mardi Gras people and musicians were on the show over the one year he was part of the show -- wonderful friend to us - sorely missed - he passed July 10, 2001
Scott and Liz Haxton - owned Mechanical Consultants on Orange Avenue - great friends of Mardi Gras - gracious host and hostess - Liz was Queen of Carnival -- they belonged to the Legion of Zombies -- sadly missed by all who knew and loved them - passed together on May 30, 2001.
Others notable names:
Al Rattey - Musician & former Prince
Delores Baldauf - Past President
Crys Anderson - Former Secretary
Panama Francis - Musican, Advisory Board Member & Grand Marshall
Nat Adderley - Musician, Advisory Board Member & Grand Marshall
Herman Macy - Former Prince
Charles L. Tillman - First Prince
Nick Arpino - Former Prince
John Marsh - Benefactor
Emil Jahna - Benefactor