Thursday, January 31, 2013

Durham Mardi Gras Parade and Celebration Festivities Begin

Why go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras when Durham Carnival celebrations are so spectacular?

Photo by Jessie Gladin-Kramer

The 2013 Bull City Mardi Gras festivities will kick off Friday with a masquerade ball that will honor old traditions, create new ones and raise money to nourish future revelers.

The event is one example of how Bull City residents are embracing old Mardi Gras traditions and shaping the celebration into their own.

The 2013 Mardi Gras Parade and Celebration will start at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, aka Fat Tuesday, at the CCB Plaza, 201 N. Corcoran St.  Parade participants are encouraged to gather at the plaza by 6:30 p.m.   The parade will end — but the party will continue — on Rigsbee Street near Motorco Music Hall and Fullsteam Brewery.

Durham Mardi Gras Group, a loose coalition of Mardi Gras participants and krewes, selected Mel Melton to serve as the 2013 king of the celebration and Rhonda Robichaux as queen.

Melton, a North Carolina native, owns Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse, and is a member of Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos, a blues band with a zydeco twist. Melton sings lead vocal and plays the harmonica and rub board.

Melton said he is ready to help Durham build a Mardi Gras tradition centered on community.
“I am really excited,” Melton said.

Rhonda Robichaux, a New Orleans native and Triangle resident, leads the Rhonda Robichaux Band.   Robichaux, who describes her music as swampy, sultry and spicy with a taste of New Orleans, has shared the stage with New Orleans artists George Porter, Jr., Charmaine Neville, along with Will McFarlane, who frequently plays in Durham, and many others.

“I have to come all the way to Durham to become the queen of Mardi Gras,” Robichaux said.
On Friday, Feb.1, the Krewe of Ariadne “in its guise as a social aid and pleasure club,” is collaborating with The Scrap Exchange to host the The Ariadne Charity Masked Ball from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.  The family-friendly event will be held at The Scrap Exchange and will Benefit PORCH Durham, which supports the Backpack Buddies program that supplies backpacks stocked with food to needy children.  The event will include live music from the Bulltown Strutters and the Blue Tailed Skinks, along with an opportunity to embellish a mask or create festive attire in the Scrap’s Make & Take room and to whack at the Mardi Gras “Pi├▒ata.”  A food or money donation required for admission, and people who use the Make & Take room will be asked to pay The Scrap Exchange’s open studio rate of $5 per person.

New Orleans social aid and pleasure clubs grew out of benevolent societies, which would help residents in its community pay rent, buy food and clothes and assist in other areas, according to  Social aid and pleasure clubs are the organizers, originators, and sponsors of New Orleans’ second line parades, according to the website.

On Feb. 9, Durham revelers will have another opportunity to make or embellish their costumes and listen to live music at Motorco. There will be kid-friendly live music and costume making from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Costume making will resume from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. and live music will extend to midnight.
Materials will be provided by The Scrap Exchange with generous help from Music Exploratorium.

For more information on events and things to do in Durham, visit the Durham events calendar.

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