Eureka Springs is getting into the fun of celebrating Mardi Gras in true New Orleans style with the help of a Hurricane Katrina transplant.
Also known as Eureka Gras, the Mardi Gras events in Eureka Springs come with much foot stomping, umbrella pumping and handkerchief waving fanfare. New Orleans Native Dan Ellis leads the way with an accent and a passion that do justice to the sound and meaning of the words “Laissez les bon temp roulez,” or “Let the Good Times Roll.”
Uprooted from his home in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Ellis made his way to Eureka Springs in November of 2005. Last year, Ellis decided to get Mardi Gras celebrations going in earnest after he realized he was going to stay in Eureka Springs. He’s been involved in some of the biggest krewes in Louisiana and Washington D.C. He was on the Krewe of Louisianans for 21 years and is a past member of the original Pete Fountain “Halfast Marchin’ Club,” which still spins its way through the New Orleans French Quarter each year.
Mardi Gras literally means Fat Tuesday and describes a day of merrymaking on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. In New Orleans and many Roman Catholic countries, a week or more of parades and parties occur prior to the Tuesday celebration.
Numerous events are planned in Eureka Springs, so make your plans now to join in the fun. The carnival is comprised of masquerade balls, costume contests, parades, pub crawls, and music. Many downtown venues will participate with special events Feb. 4-7 and on Feb. 16, the day of Mardi Gras.
A King’s Day Mardi Gras Kick Off will take place at 5 p.m. on Jan. 9 at the Rowdy Beaver Restaurant & Tavern. The Krewe of Krazo (Ozark spelled backward) will announce its dukes and duchesses and king and queen of the royal court for Eureka Gras. The kick-off event will include King Kake, dancing, and second line strutting. There will be free food for anyone masked or in costume.
The Eureka Gras Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball begins at 6 p.m. on Feb. 4 at the Crescent Hotel Crystal Ballroom in Eureka Springs. Activities will include a coronation ball and masquerade dance, and the king and queen royal court promenade and grand march. Guests should dress in formal attire or Mardi Gras costumes. There will be a cash bar, champagne supper buffet and music with celebrity vocalists. Reservations are required. Admission is $30.
The 5th annual Eureka Gras Mardi Gras Parade on Feb. 6 rolls through downtown Eureka Springs beginning at 2 p.m. Krewe of Krazo will lead the parade. Other walking groups include Krewe of Wobniar, and Krewe of Barkus, a canine parade. It finishes with the Krazo Kostume Kontest at the Art Colony at 3:30 p.m. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 7 a Eureka Gras Jazz Brunch will be held at the Crescent Hotel. This New Orleans-style sumptuous food fare will include second line dancing and jazz entertainment. Reservations are recommended by calling 479-253-9766. The brunch costs $25. The 2nd Line Krazo Krawl on Feb. 16 begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Pied Piper Tavern downtown and follows Main and Spring streets.
Phone 479-981-9551 or visit http://www.krazo.ureeka.org/for details on all the events planned. And, Let the Good Times Roll!