Mardi Gras organizer Gloria Walker wears a mask with the traditional green, purple and gold colours of the New Orleans festival. (Contributed)

Shuswap writers’ group to crank up the heat with Mardi Gras

Fundraising event will have award for best moves on the dance floor

By Barb Brouwer

Contributor

Leave your coats and boots at the door and get ready to dance into the carnival atmosphere of the Shuswap Association of Writers’ Mardi Gras at the 5th Ave. Seniors Centre on Feb. 29.

It may be colder here than in New Orleans, the traditional North American home of the annual event, but zydeco, brass, bounce and jazz music will turn up the heat on the dance floor.

Some historians believe Mardi Gras may be linked to ancient Roman pagan celebrations of spring and fertility common between 133 to 31 BC.

The origins of Mardi Gras as a Christian tradition can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons.

From there, the traditional revelry of “Boeuf Gras,” or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies. When French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles south of New Orleans on March 2, 1699, he named it “Pointe du Mardi Gras.”

When his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday, a small celebration was held the next day.

Read more: Familiar faces return for writers’ fest

Read more: Storytelling preserves Secwepemc culture, history in Shuswap

Moving northward, and albeit a few days into the Lenten season, the Salmon Arm version of Mardi Gras will include some of the ancient traditions and a few new ones.

As traditional Mardi Gras colours are gold, purple and green, revellers are invited to incorporate them into their clothing, makeup, beads and masks.

No mask? No problem – just paint your face!

Prizes will be awarded in a variety of categories – best overall costume, best mask and the winner of Dancing with the Shuswap Stars will choose the smoothest movers in various genres on the dance floor.

A silent auction will feature a number of items including gift certificates for local businesses, reading material, home decor and much more.

The event begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 and include a delicious and ample selection of appetizers. A no-host bar will feature wine and beer.

This is the Shuswap Association of Writers’ annual fundraiser to support the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival which runs May 8 to 10 and features intimate author-led workshops and a gala on Saturday night.

Gather a group of friends and book a table before Mardi Gras by calling Gloria at 250-253-2120.

Tickets are available at Touch’ A Texas in the Mall at Piccadilly and Hidden Gems Bookstore on Alexander Street.

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