February 27, 2011

Mardi Gras event returns to Hallowell

By Shannon Bryan sbryan@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Starting on Ash Wednesday, some folks will forgo the chocolate, the soda, the yam fries or some other favorite during the 40-day period of Lent leading up to Easter.

HALLOWELL MARDI GRAS

WHEN: Saturday
WHERE: Various locations in Hallowell
HOW MUCH: Most events free; $10 pub-crawl pass available at all participating bars/restaurants in advance or the day of.
FOOD OPTIONS: Eleven bars and restaurants with food specials.
PARKING: On street or area lots.
DON’T MISS: The pub crawl — the revelry will make the lingering winter easier to handle.
KID-FRIENDLY FACTOR: Children can get crafty with the mask making and show off their work in the parade. They’ll also get a kick out of the sled race.
BENEFIT: Pub crawl benefits Hall-Dale Art & Music programs; “Whatever” Sled Race benefits Hall-Dale eighth-grade trip to Boston.
IN CASE OF BAD WEATHER: “We march in rain and snow; the only thing that would stop us is flooding,” committee co-Chair Cary Colwell said.
MORE INFO: www.hallowell.org

Plenty of others would be more than happy to give up the snow, too, if they had a say in the matter.

The annual Mardi Gras event in Hallowell next Saturday helps locals splurge before the sacrifice -- and get their minds off a lingering winter.

It's "a little break in the winter," said Cary Colwell, co-leader of the Hallowell Mardi Gras committee. "A little cabin fever reliever. People need to get out and have some fun."

Mardi Gras, which translates to "Fat Tuesday," has historically been a period of filling up prior to the 40-day fast. Larger cities such as New Orleans and Quebec City have become famous for their monster Mardi Gras celebrations.

The annual event in Hallowell brings the Mardi Gras spirit to Maine.

A regular event for nine years now, it has morphed from a Mardi Gras ball to a day's worth of events that include mask making, a parade, an art exhibition, a book sale and the popular pub crawl. New this year is the "Whatever" Sled Race, which takes place at the Litchfield Road entrance to Vaughan Woods.

Prizes will be handed out for fastest sled and the best-decorated sled, so keep speed and craftiness in mind. Entry into the race costs $5, and proceeds benefit Hall-Dale Middle School's eighth-grade trip to Boston.

It wouldn't be Mardi Gras without plenty of masks, and Hallowell Clay Works, at 134 Water St., will host a children's and adults' mask-making workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. Unique handmade masks will be ready and waiting for paint and decor -- and some personal flair -- and the mask making is free.

Once the masks are properly adorned, folks can show them off in the Mardi Gras parade at 4:30 p.m. Participants meet in the Hallowell Antique Mall's parking lot, at 191 Water St. The parade will meander down Water Street as a mass of masks, beads and the classic Mardi Gras colors of green, purple and gold.

"We get a good crowd," Colwell said, "and lots of beads."

Prizes will be given out for best costume, best mask and most festive, so don't hold back on the Mardi Gras enthusiasm.

Also during the day, the Harlow Gallery, at 160 Water St., will show "Higher Forms of Art," an exhibition of art by students at Hall-Dale, Kents Hill, Cony, Gardiner, Maranacook, Winthrop and Richmond high schools. The gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m.

Hubbard Free Library, at 115 Second St., will have a book sale from 9 a.m. to noon.

Another kind of parade kicks off at 4:30 p.m. elsewhere in town: the third annual pub crawl. There will be folks in costume and an abundance of beads, similar to the Mardi Gras parade; but the pub crawl includes plenty of stops, goes well into the evening and includes adult beverages. Mom and Dad might want to ask the kids to sit this one out.

"There are 11 pub-crawl participants, and almost all of them have live music," Colwell said. "We're really blessed in Hallowell. We have lots of great musicians."

Participating bars and restaurants include Hattie's Chowder House, 103 Water St.; Easy Street Lounge, 7 Front St.; The Liberal Cup, 115 Water St.; Hoxter's Music Bar & Bistro, 122 Water St.; Higher Grounds Coffee House, 119 Water St.; The Wharf, 132 Water St.; Joyce's, 192 Water St.; Slates Restaurant, 163 Water St.; Club 223, 223 Water St.; Francesca's Italian Restaurant, 234 Water St., and Kennebec Pizza Co., 144 Water St.

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