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The Magic Hat Mardi Gras Celebration (Burlington Blog)

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The Magic Hat Mardi Gras Celebration

Burlington Gets Ready for Mardi Gras

Burlington Mardi Gras Parade. Photo Courtesy of Drink With The WenchWith the onset of the Mardi Gras season that follows Fat Tuesday, I found myself in the undereducated category as far as the party is concerned. While Burlington has an infamous reputation for hosting a raucous and rowdy Mardi Gras parade each year, I never really knew what the rage was all about. Fat Tuesday appropriately gets its name because it is the last day to indulge before Lent begins each year, in fact the French Mardi Gras actually means Fat Tuesday… So I find myself in the dreary days of February looking forward to that first weekend in March when Burlington will host yet another legendary party.

What are the major differences besides the weather between New Orleans and Burlington? They are probably widespread, but I’d like to take this time to reflect on the tried and true traditions of Southern Mardi Gras in light of my own experiences and memories in the Northeast corner of the country.

Such things as “wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades” are associated with this carnival celebration. Now in Vermont, the parade is definitely the center of the party. But we tend to start the day with what is known as a Kegs and Eggs party. Since parades tend to take place in the early afternoon, the only way to get sufficiently excited and raring to go is a pre-game parade party.  Get lots of sleep beforehand, because many houses try to finish the keg before leaving to view the parade. Not into the beer-before-noon idea? At least be sure to eat breakfast before the day begins.

Magic Hat Brewing Company hosts the weekend full of events to benefit H.O.P.E. Works, which was formerly known as the regional Women’s Rape Crisis Center. Of course Vermont would host a local celebration to help local community members and feature local vendors, a theme that is not prevalent in any of my research regarding Mardi Gras traditions. After 17 years of this Burlington tradition, there are a few things I did know about the festival. The traditional colors are purple, gold and green; and people often wear masks, feathers, beads and sequins to show their spirit. Last year the parade boasted a whopping 25,000 guests. The march is made down Main Street in Burlington, and this year you can catch all the action on Saturday March 3rd. For more information on the parade and other sponsored events like live music all weekend, visit

So what about the parties and bare breasts we now so freely associate with Mardi Gras?… Stay tuned, for next time.

Chrissy Lefavour is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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