Carnival of Fun

Missy Ronquillo (front), owner of Pescado Y Amor, and friends participate in last year's Oak Island Mardi Gras by the Sea Festival parade. Courtesy photo

Missy Ronquillo (front), owner of Pescado Y Amor, and friends participate in last year’s Oak Island Mardi Gras by the Sea Festival parade. Courtesy photo

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday.” It is traditionally considered a time of festivity before Lent. The celebration is that of a carnival—parades, masks, beads, costumes, music, food and drink—the “Fat Tuesday” of excess before Ash Wednesday, which symbolizes the beginning of religious and fasting obligations during the period of Lent.

In the U.S., New Orleans’ French Quarter is recognized as the birthplace of Mardi Gras, as the jubilee has since evolved beyond the traditional French or Catholic religious backgrounds.

Locally folks can celebrate with the Mardi Gras by the Sea Festival on Oak Island. The extravaganza is sponsored by the Oak Island Business Alliance. Activities will begin on Friday, February 28th and continue through Tuesday, March 4th.

The festival, in its third year, is the brainchild of Candace Hobbs, owner of The Grape & Ale. The event has graduated from a sidewalk parade to more than a weekend full of events with the help of local business members of the newly formed Oak Island Business Alliance. Hobbs was joined by Cindy Emery of Crazy Cake Chicks to found the organization, helping organize local businesses to work together to design and promote activities that bring “business on the island during the off season,” Hobbs reveals.

This year’s festival promises to be the biggest yet and has something for everyone.

Scavenger Hunt
Fri., Feb. 28th, 12 p.m. to Sat., March 1st, 5 p.m.
CrazyCakeChicks, 5119 E. Oak Island Dr.
Look for clues at participating businesses; door prizes will be awarded at the bonfire at the 46th Street Beach Access (weather permitting) on Saturday night. Contact: Cindy Emery at 933-4253.

Crawfish Boil
Fri., Feb. 28th • 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Grape & Ale, 8521 E. Oak Island Dr.
Enjoy the renowned seafood dish of the Louisiana coast while Group du Jour, local musicians who play live Dixieland and blues, serenade the crowd from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., Izzy and Chris, a singer/songwriter blues duo from Pennsylvania, will take the stage. Contact: Candace Hobbs at 933-4384.

Children’s Story Hour
Sat., March 1st • 9:30 a.m.
G.V. Barbee Sr. Library, 8200 E. Oak Island Dr.
Kids can listen to a Mardi Gras-theme tale.

Mardi Gras Parade
Sat., March 1st • Time TBA
The cruising carnival will begin at Oak Island Accomodations and end at the Middleton Park soccer fields. Contact: Charlie Blalock at 274-5315.

Arts and Crafts Festival/Gumbo Cookoff
Sat., March 1st • 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Middleton Park Soccer Fields, 4700 E. Oak Island Dr.
Peruse handmade goodies or, if you would like a booth, contact Missy Ronquillo at 632-3908. The cookoff will take place at 1 p.m. with area restaurants competing for the People’s Choice Award. Contact Rhonda Uhlman at 398-3203 to enter.

Masquerade Ball
Tues., March 4th • 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
4136 Southport-Supply Rd. SE, St. James
Head to the St. James Community Center for masked fun benefitting the Brunswick Little Theatre. The Brunswick Big Band will entertain as guests dine on shrimp and grits as well as a gourmet pancake bar. Food, wine, beer and soft drinks are included for only $30 person. Purchase tickets in advance at www.brunswicklittletheatre.com.

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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine