Mardi Gras Madness

By Cailean Mcleod

Students curious about the tradition of Mardi Gras were entertained on Feb. 9 a Whatcom Community College’s Pavilion.

Acts included the Bellingham Circus Guild, and various traditions such as King Cake and prizes.

“It’s going to be pretty fun, you can could come with your friends and hang out” said Laura Albert, Programming and Diversity Board coordinator prior to the festivities.

Albert said that the event included traditional Mardi Gras king cake, a table to make your own mask and featured the Bellingham Circus Guild members to come and perform.

“I think it brings out kind of just what we are about, in a sense that we do things in a diverse sense; we try to include all kinds of activities for the students,” said Landan Campbell, another Programming and Diversity Board member.

The origins of Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday comes from Catholic medieval Europe as the day before Ash Wednesday, where towns celebrating would prepare and eat every piece of food in their house in preparation for Lent, which occurs for forty days between Ash Wednesday to Easter.

“There is a tradition where there’s little baby dolls made of plastic, and traditionally they bake it inside the cake,” Albert said, describing another tradition called the “king cake”. ”The way it works is whoever has the cake with the little baby in it is the winner”

Albert said that the prize for finding the doll inside their king cake was an Amazon gift card.

Eventually, this tradition carried over to the American continent via French settlers who were the first Europeans to populate what is now modern-day Louisiana, which is why when people think Mardi Gras, they think of New Orleans.

Heidi Sorgen prepares for the annual Mardi Gras festivities on her pair of stilts. Photo by Alex George
Heidi Sorgen prepares for the annual Mardi Gras festivities on her pair of stilts. Photo by Alex George

According to New Orleans’s website for Mardi Gras, the holiday was not originally celebrated in Louisiana with big parades in the streets. Instead, it was celebrated in elegant ballrooms. It was not until the 1780s when the first Mardi Gras “Carnival” was announced that it would become similar to more modern Mardi Gras festivities.

“We are just doing ambient performance today but we’ll be club juggling, knot throwing, ball juggling, and hat juggling; and we’ll have a stilter and an aerialist,” said Della Moustachella, another Guild performer at the event.

Moustachella said the Circus Guild originally formed when its mother company, Dream Science Circus, rented a space on Cornwall Street which the regular talent acts frequently used as a hub for practice and get-togethers.

“We are performers because we love performing, and so typically any gigs that come in we are excited for and always try to make it work” Moustachella said, adding “It’s also fun to shake what we do to fit the event.”

Terril Mire, a Guild aerialist performer, said the Circus Guild was excited to be here.

Campbell said that the event went very well and that it was “cool” that the Circus Guild performers came.

“I am super proud to be a part of it,” said Moustachella, adding that the Guild helps advocate education and entertainment.

Campbell said that he would have liked to have seen more people at the event. A handful of people came and went but most seemed to be there for the food and Circus Guild performers. “I think it is something that could be attempted again at a different time of the day” he said.

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