Downtown to host Mardi Gras party

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 24, 2009

NATCHEZ — Mardi Gras will return to its early roots tonight when Natchez Downtown hosts a masked costume party at Dunleith.

Carrie Lambert, director of Natchez Downtown, said she wanted to play on the Mardi Gras festivities already in place when planning this fundraiser for Natchez Downtown.

“New Orleans is known as the Big Easy, and Natchez is often called the Little Easy,” Lambert said. “But there was nothing scheduled for Mardi Gras night this year. I guess my New Orleans roots took over, and I really couldn’t stand it.”

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So Lambert decided that having a large Mardi Gras party for the public was a great way to celebrate and raise money at the same time.

But she didn’t just want to throw a party. Lambert wanted to do it right.

“I have done a lot of research about New Orleans and the surrounding area and found a lot of information about Mardi Gras,” she said. “It was popular for houses in the French Quarter and surrounding big houses to throw masked parties in the courtyards of the homes.”

So, in keeping with tradition, Natchez’s masked party will be from 6 to 9 p.m. in the main house and courtyard at Dunleith.

The party will have a noticeable New Orleans theme with red beans and rice, onion soufflé, jambalaya and chicken and andouille gumbo on the menu. A deejay will keep the party atmosphere rocking.

“He will be playing all Mardi Gras music,” Lambert said.

Also in keeping with New Orleans tradition, the kings and queen of the Mardi Gras krewes in Natchez will all gather together at the party.

“They will greet the crowd and one another to symbolize unity in Natchez,” Lambert said. “Just as at midnight in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Comus and Rex come together to greet one another to symbolize unity in New Orleans.

But while the party should offer a good time, Lambert said the event is actually a two-fold affair. There will also be a silent auction that will raise money to help cover operational cost of Natchez Downtown.

“The money will be used to keep the association going,” she said. “There is a lot of promotion that we want to do for events. What’s the point of having an event if you can’t promote it?”

Lambert said she has been pleased with the items that have been donated for the auction. A few of the items up for auction are a Garmin Global Position System, hotel packages, a Mardi Gras mask and cooking classes donated by Regina Charboneau.

“We have a lot of really nice items that have been donated,” she said. “We have packages that range from $35 to $550 in value.”

And even though the party won’t start until 6 p.m., bidding at the auction will begin at 5 p.m. to accommodate people who might have conflicting schedules.

“But we won’t start charging admission until 6,” Lambert said.

Lambert said she is counting on the auction to raise money for Natchez Downtown because the ticket money collected will only go to cover costs associated with the event.

Tickets are $15 per person and include the food and one drink, Lambert said.

“We wanted tickets to be an affordable item for most people who live in Natchez,” she said. “We wanted to be where people can and will come since ticket prices are very low.”

Lambert said people should come dressed for a good time.

“Party attire,” she said. “Costumes are encouraged, but dressy casual, festive or formal is OK.”

Tickets should be purchased by calling Natchez Pilgrimage Tours at 601-446-6631 or Natchez Downtown at 601-442-2929.

Reservations are encouraged since space is limited, but tickets will be available at the door.