Entertainment

High-octane, high-altitude Mardi Gras in Red River

28th annual weeklong celebration in the mountains of Northern Taos County

By Yvonne Pesquera
socialmedia@taosnews.com
Posted 2/27/19

Red River's Main Street may be 1,200 miles away from New Orleans' Bourbon Street, but starting today (Feb. 28), the two locales are kindred spirits.This will be the 28th year for …

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Entertainment

High-octane, high-altitude Mardi Gras in Red River

28th annual weeklong celebration in the mountains of Northern Taos County

Posted

Red River's Main Street may be 1,200 miles away from New Orleans' Bourbon Street, but starting today (Thursday, Feb. 28), the two locales are kindred spirits.

This will be the 28th year for Mardi Gras in the Mountains, an action-packed, seven-day celebration in the town of Red River. Participate in one -- or all! -- parades, feasts, krewe balls, fireworks displays, costume contests and even a hilarious race involving trash bags called the "Gator Plunge."

Participants should note that events are held at different locations throughout Red River, so various admission prices apply. Call ahead to each venue to learn more.

The theme of this year's festivities is "Beads and Bling." Prepare to dazzle or you'll be dazzled.

The various parades scheduled for Main Street and at the Red River Ski & Summer Area will still go on — snow or shine. "It's a lot of fun. The Mardi Gras Parade on (Saturday) March 2 starts on one end of Main Street and goes to the other. Each of the krewes are on their floats throwing beads everywhere," said Shelby Werley, executive director at the Red River Chamber of Commerce.

And of course there'll be plenty of live music and dancing like the Chris Watson Band. This is Red River, after all, which New Mexico Magazine once referred to as "Nine Nights a Week" to describe its vibrant music scene.

Red River prides itself on being a family-friendly town with activities for everyone -- grandparents, adults, teens and kids. To that end, they are hosting many kid-friendly events such as a Children's Ball at the Community House and a Children's Parade at the Red River Ski & Summer Area.

But the Red River Chamber of Commerce makes it very clear on their schedule that some events are adults only. These events are obviously those krewe parties held in bars and the annual Drink Making Contest.

"The Ski De Face Krewe is a brand-new krewe this year. They're from the ski area," Werley said.

The krewe's name is a play on "The Face," which is Red River Ski & Summer Area's black diamond run that faces Main Street.

Werley gave a quick rundown on the good-natured competition of some other krewes.

"The Party Krewe," she said, "well, they just love to party. They throw the first ball on the first night. They plan it all year. And they wear Party Krewe jackets all year-round. They're a mostly local krewe and sometimes they have people from Texas and Colorado join them."

The Pirate Krewe has been around a long time and their krewe ball is on the last night of Mardi Gras. "We close down the bar at 1 a.m.," said Werley.

Another krewe is the Kowboy Krewe; they are the Texas folks behind The Kowboy Krewe Foundation. They started out as just a group of friends making an annual ski trip to Red River. But when one of their krewe members died of a rare cancer, they organized as a nonprofit organization to help those in need. Their grant application can be found at kowboykrewe.com/grant-app -- and it's open to anyone experiencing health issues, job loss and a need for housing necessities. This year's Kowboy Krewe Ball is at the Motherlode Saloon.

Mardi Gras is a jambalaya-mix of traditions. Its name means "Fat Tuesday" in English and its essence is borne from the Catholic faith. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, which signals the start of the solemn, reflective Lenten season for Catholics.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a "krewe" as a private organization staging festivities during Mardi Gras. The word is an alteration to the more common spelling of "crew."

The Grand Ball and Costume Contest is a free event Friday (March 2) at the Alpine Lodge. For refreshments, the Red River Brewing Company will be serving up its range of local brews and Sheehan Winery from Albuquerque will serve wines.

Costumes tend to range from painted faces to lights on costumes to full-on papier-mâché masks.

With a whopping 38 events to choose from, Reed Weimer of Red River Ski & Summer Area gave these words of wisdom about Mardi Gras in the Mountains: "It's a marathon and not a race."

Visit redriverchamber.org/mardi-gras-in-the-mountains to see the very full, far-ranging schedule of events.

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