Mardi Gras brings taste of Louisiana to campus

(Photo by: Eden Buxton) Students play a game of limbo at the Mardi Gras celebration that took place in the atrium of the Shepherd Union building Tuesday afternoon.
(Photo by Eden Buxton) Students play a game of limbo at the Mardi Gras celebration in the Shepherd Union Atrium on Tuesday afternoon.

Weber State University students got a taste of Louisiana in the Shepherd Union Atrium on Tuesday. The Multicultural Student Center put on the celebration for Mardi Gras in collaboration with the Center for Diversity and Unity, KWCR and Planned Parenthood of Ogden.

Teresa Holt, employment supervisor for the Multicultural Student Center, said this was the second year of the event, and the center held it to help celebrate and raise awareness about the cultural tradition.

“We started this last year,” Holt said. “We figured nobody was doing anything, so we thought we’d do something. The interest is good. It’s been growing. We were wanting to focus on the educational part, as well as having fun.”

Mardi Gras is a traditional celebration taking place the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday in French, originated from the fact that those observant of the holidays usually eat fattier foods, having to give up and fast for the 40 days of Lent beginning the day after Mardi Gras with Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras can be seen as the last hurrah before Lent-required abstention.

“Most of (the students) have heard of Lent,” Holt said.

For the celebration at WSU, students had the opportunity to dance to music provided by KWCR, make traditional Mardi Gras masks, receive beads and noisemakers, and play a trivia wheel to test their knowledge about the holiday. Timmy Phomsouvanh with the Multicultural Student Center also said the center ordered a king cake all the way from Louisiana to give students a real taste of Mardi Gras. King cake is a customary Mardi Gras dessert, Phomsouvanh said, decorated with Mardi Gras colors — green, purple and gold. The cake also had a plastic figurine of a baby inside, following tradition.

“Whoever gets that lucky slice, they’re supposed to host the next king’s cake,” Phomsouvanh said, “but we gave away a prize.”

The center also showed a documentary film detailing the preparations and events taking place in New Orleans, a city famous for its Mardi Gras celebrations.

“We wanted to let people know about the tradition and the celebration,” Phomsouvanh said.

Ryan Smith with the Center for Diversity and Unity explained what the traditional Mardi Gras colors represented. He said green means faith, gold means power, and purple means justice and royalty.

“It was a good turnout,” Phomsouvanh said. “I thought it wasn’t going to be as good, but we had departments and clubs come in at the last minute, and I’m thankful for them. And the radio station helped out with the music.”

Holt said the center would like to see the event expand and continue to grow.

“We’d like to see it become community-wide, with a parade and everything,” Holt said, adding that a lot just depends on interest and money available for the celebration. “If we could get more interest from clubs and the community, then we could do the parade.”