Mardi Gras Parade
History of the Long Time Running Event
By Carol Fisher
Ready! Set! Dress up! March! We love the month of March so much that we start it off with a whole lot of marching in our Mardi Gras parade!
For those of you who wonder why we have a parade named “Mardi Gras” mid-Lent, let me tell you a story. Here’s a defining fact. The village parade was originally yoked with the winter carnivals at Holiday Valley, and when calendars matched, HoliMont. Back in the day, most folks came into town for the ski area winter carnivals and to bury Old Man Winter at Holiday Valley, yes, in a coffin with official mourners, including a Parade Grand Marshall in tux and top hat. Well, they called it Burying Old Man Winter, but he was actually incinerated at the bottom of the hill, casket and all. The Parade consisted of mourners in a variety of costumes. Are you seeing a set-up here? So, back over twenty-five years ago, an Ellicottville village parade was created to bring these slope side revelers into the village for a fun evening. Since the original Holiday Valley parade was held on MARDI GRAS slope, carrying the name into the village to tie them together seemed the sensible and fun thing to do. And there, you have it, dear readers. That is why Ellicottville NY USA is the only place on Planet Earth where one can attend a Mardi Gras parade on a date which just happened to fall in the middle of Lent!
For the past two years, an addition, now called Ellicottville’s Masquerade Party was added to give locals and visitors another night to play in our wonderful, fun village. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Team Pritchard (Cathleen and Melanie Pritchard and their Right-Hand Girl, Caitlin Croft), this weekend extravaganza will go on. Now, with just days away from the party (Friday, March 9, 6-9pm), you are encouraged to put together a fabulous, fun, frightful and/or fantasy costume for the Masquerade Party. Heck, the glitzier, the better. One can never have too much bling or, for those in the other direction, too much scary face paint. Partygoers will be served another delicious Mardi Gras style menu at Madigan’s. Remember last year? It truly was outstanding! Yummm. Word is that this year’s menu will also feature goodies like shrimp po-boys, Cajun mac-cheese and New Orleans style donuts called beignets! Now, why drive all the way to N’Oleans for those heavenly wonders when you can get them right here at the Masquerade party? This feast is thanks to Madigan’s Super Chef, Jay Bucchardt, who just turned forty this week. Be sure to wish him a happy happy, if he sticks his head out of the kitchen. Melanie Pritchard will once again MC the party and DJ music, complements of Madigan’s, will again be provided by the amazing duo of John Nelson and Tyler Burns. Tickets for this fun event are available for the advance price of $35 until March 2 at the Chamber of Commerce at 9 W. Washington Street or online at firstname.lastname@example.org. After that, tickets can be purchased at the door for $40. More fun: Mardi Gras 2018 King and Queen will be crowned (chosen by applause – yes, with an applause meter, we hope) at this light-hearted happening. Have you ever had dreams of being King or Queen for a day? Cape, medallion, and crown provided. Now’s your chance to reign over the Masquerade Party and then Saturday, as you help lead off the Mardi Gras Parade, and Sunday at HV. So, ya gotta be able to ski to reign. Got it?
So, about the Saturday night parade. Again, costumed revelers are invited to show up at the parade start – 6pm in front of Katy’s. There will be 12 floats, teams of marchers and, get this, Parade Marshal, Punxsutawney Phil, and his handler, John Griffiths sponsored by none other than The Villager Newspaper. And, skiers, this is the rodent who told you you’d have six more weeks of winter. So, give him a great big hand! Be prepared to be wowed by the creativity of the folks who have put hours of time into their float creations, admittedly, some more than others. These folks will give their all to be the winners of the pass-around Mardi Gras trophy which they will have the honor of displaying for the entire year, to then hand off to the 2019 winners. As you can see, there’s never a dull moment in dear, sweet, fun Ellicottville! Come on down!