Feb 202012
Authors: Morgan Mayo

Beads fly, brass bands rumble, and the spirit of Mardi Gras descends over the thousands packed into New Orleans’s streets. And while Fort Collins is more than 1,000 miles away from the celebration’s long-time home, CSU students still like to take part in its iconic traditions.

“In Louisiana it’s an inherent part of the culture,” said Louisiana native and CSU assistant history professor Robert Gudmestad. “But in Colorado, it’s an excuse to have a party.”

And CSU students from the French and German club refuse to let the opportunity to throw their own Mardi Gras party pass them by.

The Mardi Gras celebration will be held Tuesday at the Ramskeller from 7 to 10 p.m. The event is free for all students and will feature performances by the bands Jonah and the Wails and Loco en Foco.

Event activities will include pancakes, beads, a raffle, a make-your-own mask table and a costume contest. The person with the best costume will be awarded gift cards from local restaurants, such as Alley Cat and Chipotle.

“It’s important to remember that Mardi Gras happens in countries all over the world,” said French club President Wendy-Anne Hamrick. “This celebration is a way to show how diversity works together, which is something CSU is all about.”

According to Gudmestad, Mardi Gras was introduced in America in the 1600s. It originated in Mobile, Alabama, but shifted to the more prominent city of New Orleans.

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras takes place for one month and comprises multiple parades hosted by groups known as krews. The krews originated from 17th-century gangs of masked men who would travel the countryside, steal produce and surprise the community with a feast.

“Getting into a Mardi Gras krew today is like a membership to a country club,” Gudmestad said. “It’s a way to mark who you are and your socio-economic status.”

And while some aspects of Mardi Gras reek of social hierarchy, it remains a notorious American tradition, with a French history linked to Catholicism.

“It’s the last day to get your vices out and have fun before the serious season of Lent,” said CSU graduate student Melissa Hartman.

With all the wild vices associated with the holiday, it’s easy to understand how Mardi Gras got its reputation. However, Fat Tuesday is more than a party. It’s a celebration entrenched in Louisiana culture.

In Louisiana and Alabama, Fat Tuesday is viewed as a state-wide holiday for public schools. Louisiana State University’s school colors, purple and gold, were adapted from the Mardi Gras colors. Krews spend the entire year and thousands of dollars planning for each upcoming Mardi Gras celebration.
For those students who want to host their own Mardi Gras party, Hartman recommends having beads, masks, king’s cake and traditional Louisiana dishes like gumbo. King’s Cake is a cinnamon coffee cake with the small figure of a baby baked inside. Whoever receives the piece with the baby becomes the King or Queen of Mardi Gras.

As with any party or holiday, Hartman added that the traditional celebration is all about the spirit of the day.

“Just have fun,” she said. “The essence of Mardi Gras is to just let the good times roll.”

Collegian writer Morgan Mayo can be reached at news@collegian.com.

What: Mardi Gras party with the French and German club
Where: The Ramskeller
When: Tues, Feb 21, 7 to 10 p.m.
Pull out quote?: “Mardi Gras happens all over the world. It’s a great way of showing how diversity works together, which is something CSU is all about.”

 Posted by at 2:28 pm

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