By Jillian McGann
Mardi Gras is heavily celebrated in Louisiana as well as the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. The celebrations have made their way to Oxford with the help of students and families from these areas.
Ole Miss junior Kellie Kampen grew up in New Orleans and has celebrated Mardi Gras since she was little. Kampen said that Mardi Gras has changed a lot since then. As a child she was more focused on the parades in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and catching the beads on the street, but now Mardi Gras is a lot more intense.
“Mardi Gras has changed so much,” Kampen said. “It used to be more of a fun traditional celebration, but now its absolutely insane.”
Kampen now takes her friends from Ole Miss to experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans with her.
“Because I’ve already [experienced] it for 20 years, I now show my friends Mardi Gras and let them catch beads and experience it,” Kampen said. “I am more of an entertainer now than a participant.”
Kampen shares Mardi Gras with her friends in Oxford by getting king cakes from her mom in New Orleans and bringing beads to share with her friends.
“Since I am normally going home for Mardi Gras weekend, I bring back memorabilia to share with my friends here,” Kampen said.
Many Ole Miss students leave Oxford for Mardi Gras weekend and head to the coast, St. Louis, or New Orleans to celebrate the weekend before Fat Tuesday.
“I don’t really celebrate in Oxford since I go home and celebrate all weekend,” said Kampen. “I think the people who don’t travel to celebrate should experience it in Oxford though.”
Celebrating Mardi Gras in Oxford
Oxford, sometimes referred to as “the Little Easy,” is celebrating Fat Tuesday in many different ways.
The Oxford Community Market is kicking off Fat Tuesday with Mardi Gras at the Market. Market Director, Betsy Chapman, said the market will be open on Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. with samples of gumbo and red beans and rice. All of the ingredients are from local farms and vendors.
“Since Oxford is sometimes called the Little Easy, we enjoy those New Orleans traditions up here,” Chapman said. “Oxford doesn’t need an excuse to throw a party but Mardi Gras is a fun celebration.”
The Oxford Community Market is open every Tuesday, but for Fat Tuesday, vendors will also have king cake and pralines to celebrate Mardi Gras as well as their regular products.
The First Presbyterian Church of Oxford will have a Mardi Gras parade on Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by a pancake supper.
Fat Tuesday began as a Christian holiday so people could indulge one last time before the season of Lent begins. Now it is a large holiday with huge celebrations.
Nightlife on Tuesday will also have Mardi Gras celebrations. Funkys, Proud Larry’s, Snackbar, and Harrison’s are also having festivities.
New Orleans themed bar Funkys will be having a Fat Tuesday celebration with $4 hurricanes, Funkys grenades, and green tea shots as well as giveaways with beads and masks for everyone.
Funkys’ owner Lee Harris said that they celebrate Mardi Gras because its something everyone likes to celebrate.
“We see how many people go down to New Orleans for the weekend,” Harris said. “I don’t think there is any reason to not celebrate it in Oxford, too.”
Harrisons is celebrating Fat Tuesday with a Mardi Gras party as well. There will be food and drink specials, as well as a DJ downstairs.
Harrisons’ owner David Harris said they are having a party because a lot of the student body comes from the coast, where Mardi Gras is heavily celebrated, and they bring the celebration to Oxford.
“Everyone loves a good Mardi Gras party,” Harris said. “Hopefully nobody is too burnt out from the weekend celebrations.”