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Mobile float builder, sailor Criminale buried Monday

MOBILE (AP) — George Criminale, a Mardi Gras float builder and sailor who died at 97, was buried with a racing boat and a Carnival wagon nearby.

“He’s just one of Mobile’s characters that we can only remember now,” said the Rev. Wayne Dean, Criminale’s friend for about 50 years, who conducted the service Monday.

Criminale died at his home Friday. A star-class yacht — a two-man racing boat — and a wagon from a 1989 circus unit that appeared in the Mystic Stripers Mardi Gras parade were arranged near the grave site at Magnolia Cemetery.

“One of George’s dreams was to have a circus unit,” said Dean, noting the pink wagon with a bear that looked like it was in a cage painted on the side.

Criminale began building floats in 1938 and was among the first to use electric lights. According to a 1969 Press-Register article, his first effort was a star-class yacht made into a float for the Buccaneer Yacht Club in the Flower Parade. He continued to build floats for about 40 years before retiring.

Criminale, who also loved sailing, began racing star-fleet yachts in 1933.

Ken Kleinschrodt, a member of the Buccaneer Yacht Club, said Criminale’s last yacht was displayed near the grave site and has been donated to the Maritime Museum.

Criminale is survived by his wife, Mabel Inez Dingler Criminale; and son, George Criminale Jr.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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