Preparing for the big party in the Bull City

Jan. 16, 2014 @ 11:18 AM

Stephen Cowles, one of the organizers of the 2014 Durham Mardi Gras Parade, described last year’s event as a mini music festival – both at the indoor venues and on Rigsbee Avenue, where musicians played. This year, Cowles said organizers would like to “foment” that kind of vibe by closing off the street at Rigsbee after the parade, and adding a venue.

“We want to turn it into a giant block party,” Cowles said.
To make that happen, members of The Bulltown Strutters community band and other organizers will launch an Indiegogo “crowd funding” campaign Saturday. The event will be held at The Scrap Exchange, where participants can learn about the plans for this year’s Mardi Gras parade, and begin making costumes and masks from the Scrap’s inventory of goods. Mardi Gras this year falls on March 4.
Organizers want to raise $4,000 on Indiegogo to help hire police officers to close off the streets for the parade and party, purchase insurance, pay musicians and absorb other expenses. Indiegogo allows fixed or flexible funding, the latter meaning that organizers can keep what they make, even if it falls below the goal. (Durham Mardi Gras has chosen the flexible option.)
Since 2011, members of Bulltown Strutters and other groups have organized the informal parade. In past years, the parade has gathered at CCB Plaza, then made its way north on Foster Street, east on Corporation Street, and ending in the 700 block of Rigsbee Avenue.
In past years, musicians and revelers have had to use the sidewalks, but if organizers raise the money for the street closing, parade participants will be able to walk in the streets proper.
Durham Mardi Gras has applied for the parade permit, but the final route has not been made final. The city has been “most supportive,” said Cathy Kielar, co-founder of Bulltown Strutters. “They know the work we have done,” Kielar said.
Last year’s event included music at Motorco Music Hall, the Garage at Motorco, and Fullsteam Brewery. This year, organizers want to add The Bar, also on Rigsbee Avenue, and is encouraging music on the street at Rigsbee, Cowles said.
Organizers also will hold a Season Party Extravaganza at The Pinhook Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. The party will include live music, burlesque dancers, hula hoop artists, and other Mardi Gras style artists. The Pinhook event is meant to raise awareness of the parade, to encourage people to participate, and either form or join krewes (organizations that put on parades for Mardi Gras).
On Mardi Gras proper, the parade will gather at CCB Plaza on Corcoran Street at 7 p.m.
“There’s gonna be a big parade, and there’s gonna be a big party, no doubt about it,” Cowles said.


WHAT: 2014 Mardi Gras Kickoff Make-’n’-Take

WHEN: Saturday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: The Scrap Exchange, 923 Franklin St., Durham