Snowmass Village, Colorado, Hosts One of the Oldest Mardi Gras Celebrations in the Mountains February 28

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Started by New Orleans natives themselves in 1980, Snowmass Village's authentic Mardi Gras Fete is one of the biggest celebrations of the season with parades, king cake, races, giveaways, Cajun food, bead throws and much more.

Wintery Colorado might seem like an unusual location for a Mardi Gras celebration, but the resort town of Snowmass Village hosts one of the oldest Mardi Gras festivals in the Rocky Mountains. Since 1980, New Orleans natives have made a pilgrimage to Snowmass’ slopes for Fat Tuesday, bringing a hefty dose of purple, green and gold spirit with them. This year, in honor of New Orleans, Snowmass has planned one of its biggest bashes ever.

“This is our 24th 'official' year of Mardi Gras festivities, and we plan to make it one of the best parties of the season for the whole family,” says Susan Hamley, Marketing Director for the Town of Snowmass Village. “From mask-making for kids to crawdad boils, king cakes and late-night revelry, Snowmass offers the ultimate Mardi Gras mountain destination.”

This dawn-until-wee-hours authentic fete draws over 3,000 visitors annually and includes traditional Mardi Gras elements such as a madcap costumed parade, king cake giveaway, 24,000 bead necklaces thrown into the crowds, crawdad boils, Hurricane drink specials, and celebrations late into the night.

Festivities begin on Monday, February 27th with a free mask-making workshop for kids of all ages. Fat Tuesday starts at dawn with the Mother of All Ascensions, a costumed uphill snowshoe race that begins at 8,500 feet in altitude and traverses up an additional 1,741 feet for $10,000 in prizes.

Starting around the noon hour, local restaurants offer Cajun buffets, drink specials and a crawdad boil, while the king and queen are crowned at 3 pm. King Stacy Forster is a favorite local pizza parlor owner, while beloved local Pat Logan was nominated Queen. Logan, who was born blind but regained her sight for 20 years through a series of operations, is now again losing her vision and will be blind again by this summer. In honor of her generous personality and loving local presence, Logan was picked to preside over the most colorful celebration of the year.

This coronation of royalty jump starts an afternoon of giveaways, bead throwing, King Cake, and the annual parade filled with floats, bagpipers, a marching band, dance troupe, stilt walkers, clowns, costumed revelers and more. All are encouraged to register for the parade, whether they’re be-costumed or building a float, and $800 will be awarded in prizes. Those entering floats receive a $100 credit toward supplies, and interested parties can register by calling (970) 618-2225.

Snowmass also plans to honor the hometown of those who first introduced Mardi Gras to locals in 1980. The Red Cross will be on-hand to accept cash donations, and prizes such as a snowboard will be given away to benefit the Red Cross and Hurricane Katrina victims. Everyone is encouraged to donate and show their support for New Orleans.

After the parade, the parties move indoors. Sponsor Jagermeister and the Jager Girls take over the Blue Door with live music, giveaways, Jagermeister drink specials, and partying late into the night. Additional Snowmass Mardi Gras hot spots include S’No Beach, Zane’s Tavern, Mountain Dragon, and the Cirque.

Snowmass Village is located conveniently between four regional airports (Denver, Eagle, Grand Junction, and Aspen) and is only 9 miles from historic Aspen, Colorado. General information, Mardi Gras lodging specials, and a schedule of events can be found by visiting http://www.snowmassvillage.com or calling 1-800-SNOWMASS.

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Allison Johnson
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