Partying down, N’awlins style

By Keith Strange

February 27, 2014

The fellowship hall at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Mount Airy will be transformed into a mini Rue Bourbon Friday, coming alive with jazz, beads, masks and authentic Creole cuisine as the community gathers to celebrate Lent with a Mardi Gras celebration.

The annual fund-raising event is set to kick off at 6 p.m.

Organizer Adrienne Belle says the event will get under way with dinner, served from 6 to 8 p.m., followed by a traditional Mardi Gras parade and dancing.

This year, music will be provided by Melva Houston and Don Belle.

Belle said this year’s dinner will consist of two types of gumbo, Creole File’ Gumbo with sausage and chicken and seafood gumbo; red beans and rice and two types of jambalaya. “This year, we’re going to have a pasta jambalaya in addition to the traditional rice jambalaya,” Belle said.

And of course, there will be King Cake, the traditional cake with a baby doll baked inside to represent the three kings who brought gifts to the Christ Child.

Tradition dictates that whoever receives the doll in their piece of cake must buy the next King Cake or throw the next party. But for the purposes of the Holy Angels event, the person receiving the doll in their piece of cake will receive a prize.

“We won’t have another party until next year, so by the time the doll is found it’s kind of too late,” Belle said with a laugh.

The annual celebration is an observance of the start of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday following Fat Tuesday.

“Mardi Gras literally means ‘fat Tuesday,’” said Belle. “It is part of the religious observance leading into Lent and was traditionally used to clean out the cupboards before the season of Lent.”

Last year, the celebration drew about 140 revelers, and Belle said she hopes for at least that many people this year.

“Last year we were at capacity, and this year we’re expecting the same,” she said. “We may have a few tickets at the door, but most people are buying in advance.

“We have a whole lot of fun,” she added of the event. “There is a traditional parade inside the church. We throw beads and basically it’s all the stuff you’d find at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”

Often, people who attend the event dress for the occasion, according to the organizer.

“People are welcome to come in costume if they want to, and otherwise the attire is flexible,” she said. “This is just a night to get together and have a good time, N’awlins style.”

The annual celebration is sponsored by the Columbiettes, the ladies auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus. Proceeds from the celebration will be used for service events in the community.

Tickets for the Mardi Gras party are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, and can be purchased by calling Belle at 710-1481.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.