Celebrate Mardi Gras in Bull City style

Feb. 28, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

Depending on your tradition, this coming Tuesday is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday -- the day before the Christian season of Lent, a time of reflection and repentance before Easter. Durham will celebrate the day with parades, bands, costumes and the transformation of the bronze bull downtown into “Bullerina.” 

This year’s parade and related events have been expanded. Since 2011, the Bulltown Strutters band and other organizations have been presenting the parade. In past years, parade participants had to walk on the sidewalk, but this year, organizers have obtained a city permit closing off the streets for the parade route.
Tuesday, organizers are asking parade participants to gather at CCB Plaza at 201 N. Corcoran St. at 6:30 p.m. The parade proper begins at 7, proceeding east on Chapel Hill Street, then north on Rigsbee Avenue, ending at the intersection with Geer Street. There, organizers are encouraging an open music jam session outside.
When the parade ends, the streets will re-open for traffic, but a portion of Riggsbee near  its intersection with Geer will be closed off until 9 p.m. for a street music party, said Stephen Cowles, one of the organizers of this year’s parade, and a tenor saxophonist with the Bulltown Strutters. He knows of several krewes – or organizations that march in the parade – that plan to play music outside. Parade participants are encouraged to join in the jam, he said.  
After the parade, the celebration moves indoors, and organizers have increased the number of bands and performance venues. Eight bands will perform at four venues in the Rigsbee Avenue area – Motorco showroom and garage, Fullsteam Brewery, The Bar, and Cocoa Cinnamon.
A number of local krewes will be marching in the parade and performing at the venues. Sandee Washington, a member of the Beauty Operators Krewe, will be performing with the krewe at Motorco garage. Washington, a former Beaver Queen contestant, plays blues harmonica and accordion, and describes the Beauty Operators as an all-women’s blues band.
Bob Schwartz recently organized Krewe de Jewe and will be marching in his first Durham parade. He attended a pre-Mardi Gras party at Pinhook, and heard that the parade was welcoming religious-related krewes. He lived for awhile in New Orleans and attended Tulane University. He has marched in the New Orleans parade, but the krewe members did all the work. “I decided this was my opportunity,” he said, and organized the local krewe.
He has created some T-shirts for the parade. Schwartz also will carry a sign with the intended pun, “Neither a borrower nor a lenter be.”
Other participating bands will be Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos, the Bulltown Strutters, The Screaming J’s, Ironing Board Sam, Children of the Horn, Radar’s Clowns of Sedation, and the Bull Bayou Ramblers.
The Bar on Rigsbee Avenue will present a Drag Show Spectacular. Cocoa Cinnamon will present the Old Time Corner jam and dance party. Fiddlers are welcome.

Go and Do

WHAT: Durham Mardi Gras Parade
WHEN: Tuesday. Parade line-up begins at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: CCB Plaza, Corcoran Street, downtown
ADMISSION: All events, including bands and music, are free. For a full schedule, visit www.durhammardigras.com.