There’s a reason that Mardi Gras parades are more famous in New Orleans than in upstate New York: it’s called winter.
Organizers of the first Mardi Gras event on Beekman Street last year learned their lesson after holding the event in February, and this year scheduled the festival for April 26 and 27, even though it bucks tradition.
“It snowed about a foot the night before,” recalled Ron Deutsch, co-chairman of Saratoga Mardi Gras. “The city wasn’t able to get the snow off the streets.”
Deutsch expects the “Arti-Gras” parade at noon on April 27 to attract more groups this year and said businesses will decorate their porches in keeping with the Mardi Gras theme.
“We’re hoping it turns into a street festival by the time it’s over,” Deutsch said. Beekman Street will be closed from noon to 2 p.m.
From 1 to 5 p.m. at restaurants throughout the city chefs will face off to see who makes the best Cajun food, while bands play live music in the Saratoga Downtowner’s parking lot on Broadway. The public is invited to vote on the dishes and return ballots to the Downtowner.
For a list of participating restaurants, visit www.saratogamardigras.org.
Children are invited to make Mardi Gras masks at Mimosa Gallery, 70C Beekman St., from 2:30 to 4 p.m. April 26.
A fundraiser will raise money for two organizations. People are invited to The Arts Center on Broadway at 7 p.m. to view video footage of the destruction that still exists in Waveland, Miss. from Hurricane Katrina. The Giving Circle, a Saratoga Springs organization that chose Waveland as its sister city, will receive donations for its members to make continued trips there to rebuild.
The other group that will benefit from the $25 admission fee that evening is Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council’s Latino Community Advocacy Program.
The program helps Latinos by offering translation services and helping them hook up with other services.
The “Estamos Aqui” photography exhibit will also be featured at the Arts Center. Backstretch workers at Saratoga Race Course used cameras to record their daily lives.
Trudi Renwick, an economist who lives in Saratoga Springs, will be featured at a panel discussion to talk about the economic contributions of Latinos in Saratoga County.
King cake and other refreshments will be served.
To buy tickets, call Ron Deutsch at 469-6769 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers from The Giving Circle just returned from a trip to Waveland in mid-March.
“It’s a slow road to recovery, to say the least,” Deutsch said.
While there, he saw a family living in an ice cream truck.
“They have one baby that’s one [year old] and another one on the way.”
Deutsch hopes to net $4,000 or $5,000 for the two charities from sponsorships and tickets to the April 26 fundraiser, double last year’s amount.
“We’re hoping to double it each year as the event grows and people get more interested in it,” he said.