Freshman AOII member, Brianna Winkles, smiles with Mardi Gras King 2018 Paul Hicks (Brianna Winkles/Facebook).

Nick AdrianStaff Writer

A bit of New Orleans made its way to Jacksonville this past week as JSU celebrated Mardi Gras culminating with its first ever Mardi Gras parade on Saturday, February 10.

The event was hosted by Alpha Omicron Pi to raise money for their philanthropy, Arthritis Research.

Mardi Gras is a thousands-of-years-old celebration that has roots in the Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Today, it is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Christian season of Lent—the 40 days preceding Easter. Mardi Gras festivities have gained particular notoriety in America in the post cities of New Orleans and Mobile, but the holiday is celebrated worldwide, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, England, Canada and Denmark. In Brazil, it is known as Carnival, a weeklong festival of vibrant colors, elaborate costumes, dancing, eating, drinking and celebrating.

JSU’s celebrations started early in the week on February 5, which included spreading word for the parade, encouraging people to attend and giving out traditional favors like beads and MoonPies.

Alpha Omicron Pi created a Snapchat filter for the parade (Megan Harvey/Facebook).

“Planning this event was a blast,” AOII Philanthropy Chairman Hannah Blue said.  “I got to meet so many people and network with my peers and people in my community.”

Rain may have put a damper on the parade route, but it couldn’t dampen the spirits of those in attendance.

The inaugural Mardi Gras parade began at 3 p.m. on Saturday, starting off at Bibb Graves Hall, traveling around Trustee Circle and concluding at the Alumni House. Miss JSU 2018 Lauren Reaves and Homecoming King and Queen 2017 Paris Coleman and Shea O’Donnell all braved the dreary weather to participate. There was also a Mardi Gras float and plenty of beads, candy and even more MoonPies.

When the parade was finished, the celebration continued with a red beans and rice dinner, raffles, prizes and a live jazz concert by members of the JSU Jazz program.

Students Bobbie Ann Oliver and Paul Hicks were crowned as JSU’s first ever Mardi Gras queen and king.

The event ultimately wound up raising over $9,000 for Arthritis Research, leading to an incredibly successful Mardi Gras celebration that will surely become an annual favorite on campus.

Megan Harvey FB.jpg
Rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of these AOII sisters as they pose at the Mardi Gras themed photo booth following the parade on February 10 (Megan Harvey/Facebook).

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