The valiant struggle to transform Springfield into an
appealing place continues with a glorious 2007 celebration of Mardi Gras.
The famed party has tickled me ever since I discovered that the reason for
going crazy with gluttony and drunken revelry was the upcoming forced fast
of Lent. How quaint. By now, I assume, most revelers have no idea of or
care to know the reason for the season. So be it. Let’s party,
whatever the excuse.
For years the only regional Mardi Gras celebration
worth attending has been the fabulous get-together in St. Louis. The
obvious French connection enables the Soulard district, just south of
downtown, to claim one of the largest Mardi Gras turnouts outside of New
Orleans, which is of course the best in the United States, if not the
world. But now we have an alternative, and, as those in the know know, it
only takes a few people to start a change, as long as the masses willingly
In this case, members of the Springfield Mardi Gras
Committee (Kate Hawkes of the Trout Lily Café, local trumpeter and
New Orleans regular Frank Parker, and jazz drummer John Sluzalis, along
with Pasfield House owner Tony Leone) concocted a delicious recipe for a
three-day celebration of the pre-Lenten bash. The 2007 festival, which was
first attempted in 2004, is much improved from its predecessor. Plans
include a Sunday New Orleans Jazz Brunch at the Pasfield House; a Monday
(that’s lundi for you purists) costume ball, with dinner and dancing, at the
Inn at 835; and two Fat Tuesday parades. The Sunday and Monday events
require tickets and may very well have sold out by the time you read this
— but who cares (obviously I didn’t get mine in time)? The real
party is on Fat Tuesday anyway.
The first parade, geared toward families (leave
the bottle of booze behind, honey), begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Trout Lily
Café, with Frankie and Johnny (Parker and Sluzalis) leading a band
and the crowd on a celebratory walk through downtown Springfield. The Trout
Lily offers free face-painting (children only, bub) for the hour and a half
before parade liftoff.
Finally we’ve reached the point we’ve all
been waiting for: the tavern-hopping portion of our show. At 7:30, again
meeting at the Trout Lily, Springfield’s Mardi Gras central command
headquarters, the Second Line Downtown Pub Crawl begins a march in and out
of downtown drinking establishments, with beads, costumes, and all that
comes with a Mardi Gras parade. The marchers may develop a wonderful weave
in their walk as they return, or, perhaps driven by a delightful
disintegration, the line will consume itself in wild abandon and unbridled
revelry somewhere between the Brewhaus and Floyd’s Thirst Parlor.
Whatever the result, isn’t it great to see
something like this in Springfield? We send a mighty and well-deserved
thanks to all who helped organize the event and deliver a gracious
thank-you to all who participate in the party. Having fun never felt so
good. Looking forward to Lent yet?
Contact Tom Irwin at email@example.com.