Serving Up Mardi Gras, L.A. Style
The Los Angeles area found many different ways to celebrate Mardi Gras this year from live cajun bands performing all around the city to costume contests for dogs dressed in Mardi Gras themed attire. Most of the events for this past Mardi Gras holiday began on Saturday Feb. 12 and went through Fat Tuesday Feb. 16.
Farmer's Market was host to a number of events all weekend including their Mutti Gras Pet Parade at 1 p.m. on Feb. 12. This event proved to be a family friendly outing for any child or adult who was interested in dressing up their animals in fancy costumes and letting them strut their stuff throughout the marketplace.
Stephanie Couey, who attended the parade with her purple-spray-painted dog Teddy says, "my favorite part of the afternoon was seeing all of the other dogs, not just tolerate, but RELISH in the attention that their costumes brought."
She commented on the fact that the whole event went beyond the typical Mardi Gras festivities of getting drunk and collecting beads but gave children a chance to enjoy the holiday with their whole family, including pets.
Other events at the Farmer's Market included their Fat Tuesday get together from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 16 with a night full of live music and dancing with Eddie Baytos and The Nervis Brothers, food from The Gumbo Pot and handmade Mardi Gras themed crafts for sale.
People were at the Farmer's Market for many different reasons Tuesday night such as participating in some naughty before before Lent started Wednesday and some were just trying to simply have a good night out on the town.
The smell of gumbo and sounds of horns blasting were thick in the air Tuesday night as a good number of people made their way down to the Farmer's Market to dance to lively tunes and celebrate Mardi Gras at the hottest spot in town.
Party-goer Linda Thomas says, "This is the best [party] they have in LA! The food at La Lousiana is better, but the people aren't as multicultural."
From 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 16 Amoeba Music also hosted an in-store Fat Tuesday celebration with live music from The Amoeba Town Players playing their rendition of "When the Saints Go Marchin' In" while following Amoeba Mardi Gras King Terry Smith.
Every year the store hosts anevent involving food, fun and music for the whole family that more and more seem to be enjoying every year. "I never celebrated Mardi Gras until I started working here," says Amoeba employee Paul Vasquze.
Regardless of the fact that the rest of the city had ceased partying Long Beach kept the fun alive with their Mardi Gras celebration and parade from 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday Feb. 20 at the pier and aquarium.
The Long Beach parade was host to all different kinds of groups making up their parade including the Mardi Gras Jumbies representing the Caribbean Mardi Gras spirit and the Cal State Long Beach's Alternative Spring Break Class members.
When asked to describe how Long Beach's festivities lived up to those in the Caribbean Mardi Gras Jumbie Vashti Ramgoolam says, "In the Caribbean we do Carnival too. It's different everywhere you go because everyone adds a different flavor."
This group recognizes that Mardi Gras, or Carnival as they call it in other parts of the world, is celebrated all over the globe by different people every year. Many not only regard it as a reason to prepare for the deprivation that comes along with the Catholic holiday Lent, but also as a chance to get together and spend quality time with friends and family.
The Coordinators for the Long Beach event were pleased with how the parade went this year, considering it is the first time that it has been held.
"We've got about 300 people that cam out to participate in the parade, we're hoping to generate a few thousand people watching," says Social Media Director Lara Wainscott.
One group that was thoroughly excited to be showing their Mardi Gras spirit and support were the college students from CSU Long Beach's Alternative Spring Break class who will be spending their spring break in New Orleans helping build houses for victims of Hurricane Katrina with Habitat for Humanity.
Throwing beads to children and getting both the young and old to dance along with him representative Sanger Lyon remarks, "We are so excited to be here and represent the Alternative Spring Break class at CSU Long Beach. We decided to show up as a class because Jeff Williams, event coordinator, invited us saying that [the Long Beach Mardi Gras team] really appreciated what we're doing for New Orleans."
People had many different events to choose from this year to celebrate whether they were looking for a good time with their friends, family, children or even pets.
"I see a lot of participation and a lot of people know what Mardi Gras is all about with their beads and masks and everything like that," says Kim Collins of the Lala Second Line dancers. This seemed to be the general sentiment no matter where people chose to celebrate this year during the Mardi Gras holiday: Los Angeles residents know how to party.