Get your bead on as Broward County Libraries launches Destination Fridays with New Orleans-style festivities! Join the fun on Friday, February 7 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) in Fort Lauderdale. The venue is AARLCC’s expansive lobby where there will be a jazz band, dancing, complimentary “Hurricane” cocktails and Cajun food (while supplies last), costumes, prizes, a fortune teller and travel discounts to New Orleans.
“Broward County Library is starting a new tradition,” says Regional Library Director Elaina Norlin. “This is similar to First Friday events that are held throughout the country, but ours will be destination-focused, with the opportunity to not only network and have fun, but to also learn about new places and obtain travel bargains and possibly win tickets to different destinations.”
Destination Fridays is an after-hours, over-21 event. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite at a cost of $10 each. Everyone attending is invited to get in the spirit by dressing in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, green and purple. Complimentary masks and beads will be provided.
Free masks and beads will be provided at Destination Fridays – Mardi Gras.
The event is sponsored by the Friends of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center along with 2 Guys Caterers, Crossain’Time, Post Haste Travel, April’s Psychic Readings, PRP Wine International, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Fun Generation, Broward College Jazz Ensemble, Shuck ‘N Dive Cajun Café and the New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
History of Mardi Gras
The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From here, the traditional revelry of "Boeuf Gras," or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies such as Louisiana.
New Orleans was established in 1718 and by the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans, but not with the parades we know today. In the early 1740s, Louisiana's governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls – the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.
By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers “krewes,” with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras. Dazzling gaslight torches, or "flambeaux," lit the way for the krewe's members, and lent each event an exciting air of romance and festivity.
In 1872, a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival – Rex – to preside over the first daytime parade. Honoring visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff, they introduced his family colors of purple, green and gold as Carnival's official colors. Purple stands for justice; gold for power; and green for faith. In 1875, Governor Warmoth signed the "Mardi Gras Act," making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is.
Mardi Gras is the first Destination Fridays event, to be held on the first Friday of February. Next month will feature Destination: South Africa, coming March 7, 2014. Travel and explore the culture of South Africa. Enjoy a complimentary tasting of South African wines, enjoy food and music and enter to win two air tickets to South Africa compliments of South African Airways.
Other Scheduled Destination Fridays include:
March – South Africa
April – Paris
June – Brazil
September – Greek Isles
October – Ghana, Africa
More Mardi Gras!
Read articles on Mardi Gras and the music, characters and culture of New Orleans at African-American Experience, a free online resource available to Broward County Library cardholders. Teens, tweens and children can access info on Mardi Gras at home via online reference books, and anyone can browse the Library’s catalog using key words such as “Mardi Gras” or “New Orleans.”