My Top 5: Yaga’s President & Mardi Gras! Galveston Organizer Mike Dean

Photo: Amanda Lepo

Our My Top 5 series showcases Houstonians who are creating the city’s culture and community and asks them to share their own local favorites. This week we’re delighted to feature a special Island edition with Mike Dean, president of Yaga’s Entertainment who is in his 10th year as organizer of Mardi Gras! Galveston. Texas’ largest Mardi Gras celebration kicks off its 109th year on Friday, February 14, with 23 parades and 25 concerts scheduled through Fat Tuesday, February 25.

My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston

by Mike Dean

  1. Spending time on the water Surfing and fishing were my parents’ babysitting mechanism. They knew my location by pier and what accessory I took with me. The only requirement was that I be home before the street lights came on. Take dolphin watching. My childlike excitement still exists at the site of these wonderful creatures in the ocean. The Galveston Ferry is the best deal on the planet for dolphin watching. Walking on is free and takes less than an hour to enjoy a trip across the bay with the family, too.
  2. Walking the Historic East End neighborhood This Galveston neighborhood was a mess when I was a child. I love seeing all the investment and revitalization in the neighborhood. With a lifetime of restoration and so many details, you find a new house or feature with every walk.
  3. Cocktails at the the 1888 Toujouse Bar Nothing beats enjoying the history and the vision of George Mitchell in 3-D with a great martini at the Tremont House Hotel bar.
  4. People watching Downtown Galveston is a mini-Manhattan with manners. Being at the end of a freeway always provides a wide range of very normal to the abnormal and the what-were-you-thinking visitors. Grab a cold beer, enjoy the warm sun, and watch the show.
  5. The Grand 1894 Opera House As a child, I saw all of the early run Disney movies in this rundown theatre known as “the State Theatre”. I love going back now to watch Sinbad, Robert Earl Keen, Willie Nelson, and Chef Robert Irvine in such an intimate venue. It’s a true community jewel.

About Mike Dean

Born and raised on Galveston Island, Mike Dean is the president of Yaga’s Entertainment Inc and Island Holdings, which includes Yaga’s Cafe, Tsunami Exotic Tequila Emporium, Float Pool and Patio Bar, Beerfoot Brewery, Ohana Surf & Skate, BLVD Seafood, and produces several festivals in Galveston each year. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, Mike is the founder of Yaga’s Children’s Fund, which has granted $1.3 million to Galveston County Children’s Charities over the last 25 years, and co-founder and current president of Experience Galveston, The Downtown Partnership, Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Island Little League. This is his 10th year to serve as organizer of Mardi Gras! Galveston.