In less than a week, the country’s biggest block party will come to a close. If you haven’t heard about, it’s been going on ever since this Wednesday. But right now, the streets of New Orleans have been closed, and will be for six more days, as the city puts on what may be America’s wildest week.
That’s right, it’s Mardi Gras. The festivities began much earlier than usual this year, with Fat Tuesday coming in early February. That’s the final day of celebration, and this year is February 12th. Fat Tuesday celebrates the last day before the solemn season of Lent, and is the actual day of Mardi Gras. But ever since the city of New Orleans threw its first parade back in 1857, the parties have grown bigger and longer, and now last over a week.
Just because the official events are centered around the southern tip of Louisiana doesn’t mean that every part of the U.S. can’t join in the celebration. Although many natives of New Orleans may disagree, this year Washington, D.C. is hosting some Mardi Gras parties that will rival what goes down in the Bayou.
Festivities run all weekend at Washington’s numerous New Orleans-themed eateries, where you can get your fix of crawdads, King Cake and hurricanes. But the biggest events are reserved for the upcoming Tuesday. While many are expected to be wild, the biggest will be coming from one of the newest.
Bayou Bakery, in Courthouse, Virginia, may have only been open for two years, but it is already about to celebrate its third Mardi Gras. The bakery is known as one of the area’s best spots for Cajun cuisine, serving up Po’ Boy’s, a nationally famous muffaletta as well as beignets and chicory coffee. The plan is to showcase just what the place is all about in one single day.
This year will be their biggest ever, involving a block party as big as any you’ll find East of the Mississippi. The restaurant, along with its native New Orleans chef David Gaus, is closing the street in front of it, 15th Street, for a tented, outdoor bash that runs from 5-8 p.m. After time’s up, everyone attending is invited back into the restaurant, were the evening will go until 11 p.m. All night chefs will be serving New Orleans classics, such as gumbo and ray oysters, alongside Abita beer and traditional New Orleans cocktails. Tickets for the event start at $30, and include three food tickets.
One of the best aspects of Mardi Gras down in New Orleans is their parade, and Bayou Bakery won’t be skimping on that either. The restaurant is making their own float, which at the end of their outdoor party, will roll down the street to join the Clarendon Alliance’s annual Mardi Gras parade.
The Clarendon Alliance has been hosting its annual festivity for over 15 years now, with each parade being bigger than the last. This year’s runs down Wilson Boulevard, traveling a mile through the heart of Arlington, from North Barton Street to North Irving Street. It is expected to include over 40 floats, including many from local businesses. Also walking the route will be several high school marching bands as well as other delightful surprises.
Attending the parade is free and it kicks off at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday. It is truly a must-see event if you live here, as it is one of the largest Mardi Gras parade in the Washington, D.C. area.
Which makes Arlington a little something like New Orleans East, and the place you should spend your Tuesday, ringing in one of this country’s biggest party days.
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