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Folks donning masks, beads, flood Jefferson Mardi Gras

By Hannah DeClerk
March 5, 2011 at 4:59 p.m.

Purple, gold, and green ensembles were the uniform of choice in Jefferson Saturday as thousands of party-goers lined the streets to let the good times roll.

The 2011 Krewe of Hebe Mardi Gras was in full swing Saturday afternoon as more than 30,000 participants from across Texas gathered to celebrate before the season of Lent.

"The first year we did it, I was amazed, and the second year, it blew me away. And we have continued growing every year with more and more cool neat ideas," said Krewe of Hebe Board Member Lisa Edwards.

Ms. Edwards, who was one of the original delegates for the first carnival in 1989, said she and the Krewe will continue to make the celebration bigger and bigger each year.

"We want to bring bigger sponsors next year, more bands, and more station areas, as well as other events during the week," she said.

The theme this year, "History on Parade," was celebrated all weekend, and incorporated the majority of the float's themes during the "Grand Parade."

The floats were designed to embody historically significant landmarks such as World War II, the Trojan Army, and Woodstock.

The parade participants began at Walnut Street and circled around the main stage area and ended up at Bonham Street.

The Motorcycle Parade kicked off the Grand Parade with many Harley Davidsons cruising down the grand parade route and throwing out beads.

Previous to the parade, there were several around-the-clock entertainment for all ages with events geared toward the party crowd as well as families with children.

The events began Friday night at the main stage off Austin Street between Polk and Vale Streets with The Night Hawk Band of Hope, Ark., for gospel, Cajun and progressive country to set the mood.

The Doo Dah Parade at 7 p.m. Friday is "where everyone is invited to dress in the craziest Mardi Gras costume and join in" for the march, which ends back at the main stage for the "Light Up the Night" Alley Dance.

Saturday's fun started at 11 a.m. with music from Trio Grande, a ZZ Top tribute band from Dallas, which has fuzzy guitars, long beards and cheap sunglasses.

The music continued at the main stage at 3 p.m. with Kenny & the Kasuals for some 1960s and 1970s rock classics, and The Highwaymen followed at 7 p.m. for the "ultimate tribute to Willie, Waylon and Johnny Cash" until 10 p.m.

Events for today will begin at noon with Dennis Hogan on the Main Stage.

The Children's Parade will begin at 2 p.m., and a whole slate of kids' events will go on at the Otstott Park gazebo including: the children's costume contest, the ugly dog contest, the pet look alike contest and best pet costume contest.

The history of Jefferson in relation to Mardi Gras dates back to the 19th century when Jefferson was an inland river port.

People had moved from New Orleans to Jefferson, since as an inland port, Jefferson was the head of commerce and navigation.

During the mid-19th century, New Orleans natives started to miss Mardi Gras and established it in Jefferson.

"Jefferson took on the same traditions back then," said Ms. Edwards. "And then we brought it back in 1989 and it has been huge ever since."



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