Mardi Gras’ to entertain, create cultural unity

By Rob Heselbarth

A renamed eating and entertainment event will attempt to create unity among the many cultures at NIU.

On Saturday, April 25, from 12 to 5 p.m. at the West Lagoon, an event called “Mardi Gras” will be held in conjunction with Little Sibs Weekend and Day in the Park. Mardi Gras was known under the moniker of “Taste of NIU” last year.

Catherine Reeves, an NIU student and Mardi Gras coordinator, said there will be 35 different organizations and 15 area restaurants participating in the event.

In addition to food, there will be masks to wear, beads, balloons, fortune tellers, dunk booths, clowns and various other types of entertainment including four bands performing through the Day in the Park event.

Reeves said she is expecting a great turnout. “I would like everyone to come with an open mind and be ready for a time of good clean fun,” she said.

“It is mandatory that everyone must wear a costume or mask,” she said. “There will be masks provided for everyone.

“Historically, masks are worn at Mardi Gras to hide one’s appearance,” she said. “This will be an opportunity to find a new self and let yourself go and have fun.”

Reeves said one goal of the event will be for people to forget about color barriers and racial tension at NIU and to allow people to enjoy the event without concentrating on racial differences.

Michelle Emmett, director of University Programming and Activities, said the event will try to be family-oriented. “We want to get people from NIU and the community to come,” Emmett said.

Twenty percent of the money earned by the participating restaurants will be donated to Student Association Minority Relations. The SA group will divide the money between the What About Bob Fund, AIDS Research Foundation and local homeless shelters.

Reeves said she hopes the event will get better each year and wants NIU to be recognized by Mardi Gras and its tradition of unity.