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IT’S MARDI GRAS TIME!  This is February and it commands attention with its celebrations, parties, and parades  all month long up to the final Shrove Tuesday — –or Fat Tuesday as it is also called, which this year lands on February 16thMardi Gras, which actually means Fat Tuesday in French, is a time for fun and excess before the austere Lenten Season sets in on Ash Wednesday.

But Mardi Gras is more, by far, than just enjoyment and merry-making. It is a time unlike any other, filled with color and often weird creations, costumes and masks, secretiveness, banquets, dancing in the streets, non-stop live music, Dixieland bands, and even debauchery.

–Oh, you can be bad, bad, bad…and if you play it right, with costume and mask, nobody will even know it was you.  Is that seductive?

Of course, you really have to go to New Orleans to know Mardi Gras.  While many other cities in the United States celebrate it, nothing compares to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Oh, to be in the French Quarter on February 16th, and to see the grand parade with its indescribably fantastic floats and characters wind its way down Canal Street!  Try to catch some of the colorful beads that are thrown to spectators, they’re an integral part of Mardi Gras tradition.

Businesses and roads almost totally shut down for Mardi Gras in the Big Easy, and just about everybody takes to walking in the streets as hundreds of thousands of tourists pour into the city for the spectacular event.  Street performers add to the carnival spirit as parade after parade revs up the excitement.  Costume balls are innumerable and if you go to New Orleans you’ll surely get into at least one of them.

JOINING IN THE FUN OF MARDI GRAS TAKES TWO IMPORTANT THINGS. ONE, YOU HAVE TO GET IN THE SPIRIT OF THE EVENT.  AND TWO, YOU NEED A MASK!  HERE ARE SOME TO CONSIDER:

Mardi Gras at Universal

Mardi Gras is also celebrated in cities like Galveston, Lafayette (Louisiana), St. Louis, and Pensacola (Florida).  At Universal Studios in Orlando, Mardi Gras is a big event.  Here you’ll find fabulous parades, celebrities galore, and authentic Cajun food to delight your taste buds.

This year Universal is marking “15 years of the biggest party this side of the bayou.”  So, if you can’t make it a little bit farther West to New Orleans where the real action is taking place, well, try Universal for a sample of Mardi Gras fantasia!

Mardi Gras in Rio

Outside of the United States, Mardi Gras spirit is wildly exciting, as well.  In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Carnaval (as it is spelled in Portuguese) is a four day celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday.

Rio’s Samba Parade extravaganza is considered by many to be the greatest show on earth.  It lasts for 20 hours and involves 70 thousand direct participants, not to mention millions of TV spectators around the world.

But Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the real thriller, something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.  However, if you can’t quite make it this year, think about having a Mardi Gras party in your own home community.  Be sure to include live music (an absolute necessity for any real Mardi Gras party), plenty of good Cajun food, colorful decorations, and costumes, wonderful, extravagant, fabulous costumes.

–Oh, you’re going to really enjoy this one!

YOU CAN MAKE THE MARDI GRAS FESTIVITIES SPECTACULAR!  HERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC ITEMS TO ADD TO THE FUN:

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, February 6th, 2010


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