Getting the Mardi Gras party started

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When www.TripSavvy.com announced its nine Best Cities for Celebrating Mardi Gras in the United States last month, the southern states were king.

New Orleans, the center for all things Mardi Gras, sat at number one with Lake Charles and Lafayette, La. falling in line at spots two and three. Nearby Mobile, Ala. sat at number 4.

The only Mardi Gras celebration touted by TripSavvy that is north of the Mason-Dixon Line was in San Diego, Calif.

But Mardi Gras celebrations, which coincide with the arrival of Fat Tuesday, Feb. 25, have been growing in popularity in the colder climes of the U.S.

In Connecticut, the New Britain Museum of American Art is hosting its own Mardi Gras After Dark party on Feb. 28. The Farmington Valley Stage Company in Collinsville has its own celebration lined up on Feb. 22.

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And the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol will be holding its 30th anniversary Mardi Gras party on Feb. 22

Although Mardi Gras is mostly closely associated with New Orleans and the south, the Carousel Museum’s executive director Morgan Urgo said, “I think that the idea of the Big Easy appeals to everyone.”

“We northerners love the excess, celebration, and liveliness that is allowed and tolerated in the French Quarter that would never fly up here in the 13 original colonies,” said Urgo.

“I would never trade my home state of Connecticut to live anywhere else, but it sure is fun to visit and see how laid back and easygoing the south can be,” said Urgo.

Urgo said the Mardi Gras party at the museum “is a celebration at the height of winter cabin fever.”

“I think by late February we are all ready to get out of the house and feel free,” said Urgo. “The Mardi Gras party allows people to do just that.”

At the party in Bristol, Urgo said, “People come dressed in all different types of outfits, some come black tie, others come in jeans and t-shirts and then everyone else comes dressed in between.”

The party has developed dedicated followers through the years, said Urgo. For instance, she said, Nate Evans from Hartford Ballroom has been the DJ and emcee for the past three years. Urgo said Evan has a “huge” following that have become repeat customers for the party.

The party is about more than a good time, said Urgo. It’s also a fundraiser that supports educational programs and general operations at the museum, which does not have an endowment to help with finances.

Bristol’s Mardi Gras party was proposed initially by the late Joan Seguljic, who was a volunteer at the carousel museum. Urgo said the first year found the museum filled up with performers, food, and over 500 people.

“I wish I had been to that event, the stories are incredible,” said Urgo, who took over the role of the museum’s executive director in the last year.

The Carousel Museum’s celebration has evolved over the past three decades, said Urgo. For example, there is now a wine and bourbon tasting that has proven popular.

Additionally, new for this year, Urgo said, is a tea cup auction with a variety of prizes.

Also Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ will be providing the catering for the party this year.

The New England Carousel Museum, 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol will hold its 30th annual Mardi Gras party on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight. For information and tickets, go to www.TheCarouselMuseum.org.

The New Britain Museum of American Art’s After Dark Mardi Gras party, will be held at the museum, 56 Lexington St., New Britain on Friday, Feb. 28 from 8 to 11 p.m. For information and tickets, go to www.NBMAA.org.

The Farmington Valley Stage Company’s Carnival! A Mardi Gras Celebration will be held at 4 Market St., Collinsville on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. For information and tickets, go to www.FVAStage.org.