PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Hundreds of people filled the streets downtown Friday night for the Official Kickoff to Pensacola Mardi Gras.

The opening ceremony started inside Seville Quarter then the fun spilled out into the streets of with the second line processional of royalty. They walked around and blessed the floats and krewes.

“It’s fabulous,” said a member of Krewe of SWAT. “I mean it’s the kickoff for Mardi Gras.”

The Krewe of SWAT has arguably one of the coolest floats. It’s a huge tank called “The Beast.”

“Absolutely wonderful..I mean it’s amazing to be in this krewe,” she said.

Herchel Royals is from Miami and this is his first Mardi Gras.

“It’s fun tonight,” Royals said. “I just came girl asked me to come out. First time experience. I just wanted to try something new culture-wise and I’m actually enjoying myself.”

Everyone knows the Krewe Da Ya Yas for their pink wigs and tiaras. They have their own foundation. They raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.

“We party with a purpose,” one member said. “All of our money raised stays here locally within Northwest Florida and South Alabama.”

They all have something in common. They like to have a good time and fight for a good cause throughout the year.

This year, the parades will roll the last weekend in February with the Krewe of Lafitte Illuminated Parade Feb. 25. The Grand Mardi Gras Parade is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 26.

This kickoff celebration was in honor of Pensacola comedian T. Bubba Bechtol who passed away in December. He performed at the Grand Ole Opry many times during his 20-year career.