Mardi Gras madness

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Mardi Gras is a traditional holiday that is celebrated all throughout the southern states.
The most famous Mardi Gras celebration is in New Orleans, La., where the parades are notorious, along with the beads, doubloons, cups and other trinkets. There are also masquerade balls where people come dressed up in costumes.
Even though New Orleans has been the prime spot for Mardi Gras, Atmore has its very own festivities. I attended the Ladies of Essence annual Mardi Gras Ball Saturday and had a blast! There were so many fantastic people that I got to socialize with at the event. I met all of the Ladies of Essence and they were very welcoming and willing for me to take their pictures. As a reporter, that is what I attended the event for, pictures and interviews.
However, not only did I enjoy reporting the Mardi Gras Ball for the Atmore Advance but I had a good time all around. There were so many people dancing, having a great time and they were so much fun to watch. The entertainment, Nikka deMarks was very enthusiastic about the evening, making all of the guests excited about attending. I, for one, was not willing to dance because I have two left feet. But it was very enjoyable to watch those who did know how to dance.
The Ladies of Essence are also the host of a Mardi Gras Parade every year. The 2007 parade will be held this Saturday at noon. There will be decorated floats, cars and trucks. The parade will begin at the Atmore City Hall and will peak at Houston Avery Park.
For those readers who are as unsure as I used to be about what the Mardi Gras celebration is actually about, a brief description is in order.
Mardi Gras officially begins on "Twelfth Night," which is 12 days, Jan. 6, after Christmas. Mardi Gras Day, which is also known as "Fat Tuesday," will be celebrated Feb. 20 this year. Feb. 20 is the last day of the Mardi Gras Carnival season. Mardi Gras Day is always 46 days before Easter, making it a different day every year. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday.
The tradition came to New Orleans in 1699 through its French heritage. The early explorers were known to rejoice this holiday on the Mississippi River banks. Over the years the people of New Orleans added to the celebration by creating associations that hosted the parades and the balls. The holiday grew quickly and became exciting for both children and adults.
The Mardi Gras official colors are purple, green and gold. These three colors were chosen in 1872 by Rex, the King of Carnival; purple to represent justice, green to represent faith and gold to represent power. In the 1920s and 1930s, the "Krewe of Rex" started the tradition of tossing beads by throwing inexpensive necklaces made from glass beads to the enthused crowds.
There are many customs that are involved with Mardi Gras but the main tradition is simply to have fun. I know I intend to!
Adrienne McKenzie is a reporter for the Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 368-2123.

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