Mardi Gras in the mountains |

Mardi Gras in the mountains

The annual Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday celebration in Snowmass Village draws plenty of revelers. (Biege Jones)

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Snowbound Colorado is a far cry from New Orleans, but don’t tell that to Snowmass Village, host of one of the oldest Mardi Gras festivals in the Rocky Mountains.Natives of the Big Easy have made a pilgrimage to Snowmass’ slopes for Mardi Gras since 1980; Snowmass locals quickly caught on and created an official event that celebrates 25 years of Fat Tuesday revelry on Feb. 20.”We plan to make this quarter-century anniversary one of the best parties of the season for the whole family,” said Susan Hamley, marketing director for the Town of Snowmass Village. This dawn-until-wee-hours authentic fte draws more than 3,000 visitors annually and includes traditional Mardi Gras elements such as a madcap costumed parade, king cake giveaway, bead throws, crawdad boils, Hurricane drink specials, and celebrations late into the night.Fat Tuesday starts at 7 a.m. on Tuesday with the Mother of All Ascensions, a costumed uphill snowshoe race that regularly draws more than 250 competitors and marks its 15th anniversary this year. The race begins at 8,500 feet in altitude and traverses up an additional 1,741 feet; competitors have a shot at $15,000 in prizes. Sign up to participate on the mall before the race begins.Starting around the noon hour, local restaurants such as Zanes, The Cirque, and Big Hoss Grille offer Cajun food, hurricane drink specials, and crawdad boils.The afternoon festivities include a Kids’ Carnival with mask making, face painting and stilt walkers, the coronation of a local king and queen and a bead throw some 29,000 necklaces will be tossed into the crowd. This years king and queen are Snowmass Mountain Manager Steve Sewell and Snowmass Drug & Liquor co-owner Barbara Bakios-Wickes.The annual parade, starting at 4 p.m., is filled with floats, bagpipers, a marching band, dancers, cheerleaders, stilt walkers, clowns, costumed revelers and more. Cash prizes will be awarded for best costume, best float, and best use of this year’s theme “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” (Let the Good Times Roll).After the parade, the party moves indoors to local hot spots such as Zane’s Tavern, Mountain Dragon, Big Hoss Grille, and the Cirque, which are celebrating with live music, Mardi Gras giveaways, and Fat Tuesday food and drink specials.

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