By Dorian Armstrong
The College’s sixth-annual Mardi Gras Masquerade kicked off another night of fun, food and fabulous music on Wednesday, April 6. The event celebrated the culture of New Orleans and brought a touch of the Louisiana city to the College. Organized by the Alternative Break Club (ABC), with a little help from Beck’s Cajun Cafe and the Bon Temps Brass Band, the free event drew a large crowd of students, including both long-time ABC volunteers and first-time attendees, to the Lions Den.
Senior art education major and ABC historian Amanda Intili made sure to note that the festivities were all for a good cause.
“We’re here to spread awareness about Hurricane Katrina and how ABC is going down (to New Orleans) and helping to rebuild,” Intili said. “There’s still over 6,000 families trying to return to their homes. The main city’s up and running now, but a lot of the outskirts are still abandoned. Families want to come back, but can’t afford to do that, so we want to try rebuilding houses and lowering labor costs and doing what we can for them.”
As their name suggests, ABC goes to New Orleans three times each year — during the winter, spring and summer breaks — to restore the city damaged by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. In addition to their community service, the group is able to explore the vibrant city.
“The community of New Orleans is really positive and lively, and it’s really refreshing to see that,” Intili said.
The Mardi Gras Masquerade not only raised awareness for the club’s cause, but also showcased the New Orleans culture through live performances and authentic food.
The Bon Temp Brass Band brought seven members to the College to share the best of New Orleans. Aside from the viewing of an educational video and a short intermission for dinner, the band performed for two hours straight.
Soon after the show’s start, members of the College’s Swing Club showed off their dancing skills and offered an open invitation to all in the audience to join them on the dance floor — an invitation which proved irresistible to many students at the event.
ABC made sure to include a wide variety of zesty Cajun food at the event. To honor the traditional flavors of New Orleans, they served chicken and ham jambalaya, fried balls of macaroni and cheese and “gator gumbo” — a stew made from the meat of an alligator’s tail. Beverages available included three flavors of daiquiri. A scrumptious dish of bread pudding in whiskey cream sauce was put out for dessert. The food and festivities at the Mardi Gras Masquerade proved to be a real hit among students.
Junior elementary education and art double major Erika Ungar attended the Mardi Gras celebration and spoke highly of the ABC program.
“I first heard about it freshman year, since one of my friends was in the club and had been to New Orleans,” Ungar said. “I’ve been on three trips of my own now and I’ve loved it. Hopefully, we can raise some money for this since there is still so much damage down there.”