Bring a mask when you celebrate Mardi Gras

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Behind a mask, you can be anybody you want to be.

And at Mardi Gras, the anonymity is all the better.

According to MardiGrasNewOrleans.com, “In the beginning, masks worn during Mardi Gras allowed wearers to escape society and class constraints. When wearing a mask, carnival goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they desired to mingle with.”

As for the festivities themselves, Smithsonianmag.com explained: “Mardi Gras made landfall in the United States back in the 17th century when the French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville set up camp 60 miles from New Orleans on the day that the holiday was being celebrated in France. He called the location Point du Mardi Gras. But, Mardi Gras and the accompanying masked balls associated with the holiday were outlawed when the Spanish governor took control of the area in 1766 as well as when it came under U.S. rule in 1803. But by 1823, the Creole population convinced the governor to permit masked balls. By 1827, wearing a mask in the street was legalized in New Orleans.”

Mardi Gras – complete with the traditional masks— takes to the colorful halls of carousel horses and artwork this weekend when the New England Carousel Museum hosts its annual Mardi Gras Party..

The fundraising event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight. There will be music, food, bourbon, and beads. The Al Fenton Band will perform as guests dance the night away in the museum ballroom. There also will be a 50/50 raffle, face painters, temporary tattoos, balloon twisting, magic, bourbon, and wine tastings—activities all worthy of the Speakeasy.

And, of course, there will be masks for sale in the museum’s gift shop.

After all, when you’re in a mask, no one needs to know your name at Mardi Gras.

The New England Carousel Museum is at 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol. For more information, go to TheCarouselMuseum.org. Tickets are $50 and are available online.

Keeping a resolution, even if it’s not for the new year

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Statistic Brain Research Institute released a study on Jan. 1 that reported the number 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and eat healthier.

Of those surveyed, 21.7 percent wanted to lose weight and eat healthier. The second highest item on the survey were resolutions people made to improve their lives and their self.

However, the same survey show only 58 percent of those who make resolutions keep them beyond the first month of the new year.

“Another year has come and gone and the desire to do better is again at the forefront of our minds, said Justin Michaels of JM Fitness, which is located inside the Boys and Girls Club of Bristol Family Center on West Street in Bristol, Conn.

A professional personal trainer for 10 years who has trained hundreds of clients, Michaels said, “I’ve committed my life’s work to helping my people do better, but that’s easier said than done. See, changing isn’t a wish or a hope. Change is practicing being different, being better than before. “

Michaels said resolutions fail, not in the dream to succeed, but the practice of achieving them.

“Humans are very habitual and as we fall short and fail to makes or dreams reality, those shortcomings become our habit,” said Michaels.

“So 2017 rolls around, and we feel compelled to set new resolutions,” said Michaels. “What we’re forgetting is last year around this time we did the same exact thing, and failed. “

“What was missing?,” said Michaels. “Self-love.”

“Would you do something extremely difficult and time consuming requiring sacrifice for someone who didn’t mean the world to you?” said Michaels.

“Of course not,” he said.

“So what makes you think you can practice doubt, negativity and criticism of your body but expect to take on the challenge of changing who you are?” said Michaels. “The secret to change is love. If you can attach yourself to your past, meaning you accept who you are and what you’ve become to this point, than you are by all means ready to grow better.”

“Turning away from your reflection in the mirror is a practice of self-depreciation and that’s hardly the way to better your body,” said Michaels. “Love yourself. Believe you deserve to improve and decide that you are willing to practice, every single moment of your day, for the rest of your life, self-love.”

Ultimately, Michaels said, the solution is to forget the New Year’s resolution instead, he said set a resolution for your life.

Tell yourself, said Michaels, “I will love and cherish my body and my life through good and bad times because it’s mine, and it’s the only one I’ll ever have.”

For more information about JM Fitness, go to www.jmfitnessct.com

Large turnout of patrons, vendors at Home Show

By LISA CAPOBIANCO

STAFF WRITER

Sunny skies and 50-degree temperatures came just in time for people to escape cabin fever and attend the 32nd Annual Bristol Home & Business Expo last weekend.

Sponsored by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Jenks Productions, Inc. and presented by Xfinity, the expo kicked off last Saturday and continued through Sunday at Bristol Eastern High School.

A half an hour before the expo officially began last Saturday, over 100 people were waiting at the door to check out a variety of vendors that ranged from home improvement businesses to technology to energy companies.

“The weather was absolutely on our side,” said Cindy Scoville, president and CEO of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce.

Scoville said the chamber was very pleased with turnout of vendors this year.

“We’re very happy with the amount of local vendors, and some [vendors] outside of the community, and people in the community who have supported us year after year,” said Scoville. “It says a lot about what we do for the community and for businesses.”

Serving Bristol and the surrounding area for nearly 80 years, Crown Oil, which is now a division of Mirabito Energy Products, returned to the expo again to speak face-to-face with homeowners about heating oil delivery and cooling needs.

“It definitely gives us exposure. It gives us an opportunity to meet people in an environment where they’re comfortable,” said Mirabito’s Central Connecticut’s Regional Manager, Steve Salvatore.

For over 20 years now, Curt Carlson Builders has been a vendor at the expo, where the Bristol-based construction company receives anywhere from a dozen to 25 leads from homeowners seeking additions, kitchen/bath remodeling or other services.

“I get to meet people face-to-face. Once you talk to the customer, you start to develop a bond,” said business owner Curt Carlson. “I love the show because it’s local. I see people here every year again and again.”

This year, the expo also brought a larger craft fair, which featured handmade crochet items, jewelry, soaps, homemade jams, and more.

New to the craft area was Sissy’s Unique Boutique, a home-based business in Bristol. Based on two sisters who love to craft and crochet, Sissy’s Unique Boutique featured a variety of items for sale—from baby clothes to hats to blankets.

For boutique owner Georgina Grice, crocheting was just a fun hobby she began at just nine years old before turning it into a business four years ago.

“It’s a hobby that turned into a business,” said Grice, a lifelong Bristol resident.

Throughout the day, expo-goers also had a chance to meet with different civic groups and local organizations, including those in the health industry, such as Wheeler Clinic and Bristol Hospital.

Outside Bristol Eastern stood Bristol Hospital’s ambulance truck, which children and families were able to explore. Each individual who stopped by the truck also received a “File of Life”—a medical identification card that helps first responders by providing an accurate medical history, list of medications, existing conditions and allergies.

“If they’re unable to speak or if they’re unconscious, and we need medical information about them, it helps us to better serve our community,” said EMT Bob Varasconi. “We want to help promote Bristol Hospital EMS, and let people know that we’re here for them if they need us.”

Besides free door prize drawings and children’s activities, expo entertainment also included spiritual psychic medium Karen Kilmartin, a Torrington native who best known for her down-to-earth attitude and compassion. Channeling spirits since age two, Kilmartin, communicated with deceased loved ones of audience members for a group intensive reading.

“My hope in what I do, and why I do what I do, is to give people peace,” Kilmartin told audience members at the expo.