Celebrate Mardi Gras locally

Couples dance to jazz music at Mardi Gras celebration

Couples dance to jazz music at Mardi Gras celebration

Helen Daley

The date of Mardi Gras, translated literally as Fat Tuesday, is determined by Easter which can occur any time between March 22 and April 25. Mardi Gras occurs this year on February 28, the eve of Ash Wednesday and beginning of Lent.

Although Mardi Gras parties occur all year long now, the period of Lent was historically a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. But first came the partying in preparation for the period of abstinence. Carnivals are celebrated around the world with New Orleans being the most well known in the U.S. Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday derived their names from the customs of slaughtering a fatted calf on the last day of Carnival, making pancakes to use up fat, eggs and dairy before abstaining from them, and going to confession. All celebrations were halted at midnight in preparation for Ash Wednesday.

The Arizona Classic Jazz Society will leave the debauchery often associated with Mardi Gras to New Orleans, but will celebrate the Dixieland music made popular there and played during many of the parades. Come, march, dance or simply sit back and enjoy the music in the San Marcos Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort, One San Marcos Place, Chandler, on Sunday, February 26, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Non-stop entertainment will be presented by Cheryl Thurston’s Mardi Gras Jazz Band from Sun Lakes, the Sun City Stomperz from the West Valley and the Wildcat Jazz Band from Tucson. Cost is $30.

There will be second line parades, so bring your own umbrella or use one of the many decorating the jazz party. Costumes and masks are not mandatory, but dressing up does tend to provide a more authentic experience. There will be prizes for best costumes. Many Carnival attendees wear the Mardi Gras colors of green (faith), gold (power) and purple (justice). Beads will be provided for all attendees. We also have dance floors which most New Orleans jazz clubs don’t offer.

For more information, call 480-620-3941 or go to www.azclassicjazz.org

Sun Lakes residents are fortunate in that there will also be a Mardi Gras Party on Fat Tuesday at the Palo Verde Restaurant featuring a traditional Fat Tuesday buffet and music provided by Cheryl Thurston’s Mardi Gras Jazz Band from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. For reservations, call 480-895-1981.