If you’re particularly devout, or just a fan of holidays, you might already be aware that Easter is on April 12th this year. Exactly forty-six days before that, though, is Fat Tuesday–or Mardi Gras. The festival is always the day before Ash Wednesday, the last hurrah before Lent.
In March, the sisters of the Delta Epsilon Chapter ofAlpha Omicron Pi gathered together with friends and community members to celebrate Mardi Gras. They also worked to raise funds for their organization’s national philanthropy, the Arthritis National Research Foundation.
What is the Arthritis National Research Foundation? The ANRF is a nonprofit organization that services to individuals dealing with the struggles of arthritis. They also work to research ways to combat the issue and hopefully find a cure.
While this is only the second year that the sorority has done a Mardi Gras festival and parade, they still received great support in their endeavors raising a finally total of 12,487 dollars, with twelve different individuals and organizations supporting in the parade, and 150 to 200 people in attendance at the parade and festival.
“Funds were raised in multiple different ways,” explained current philanthropy chair for the sorority chapter,” Taylor Anne Beckham. “Our main source of money came through Crowd Change donations; however, we also sold tickets for gumbo plates, and organizations paid to participate in the parade. The Mardi Gras King and Queen contestants also helped to contribute over 3,500 dollars to our overall amount raised. At the celebration, we sold raffle tickets, and families purchased bounce house wristbands, face painting sessions, and delicious cotton candy [made by the members].”
In their first year, the chapter raised around 9,000 dollars. This is a pretty sizeable accomplishment, especially for a first attempt.
“If we can increase our amount every year, I am confident we can impact the lives of many!”
When people come together for a cause, those on the outside sometimes wonder, why do they do it, is it worth it, or what’s the point? Here is what Beckham had to say.
“I personally believe it is important to pour love and compassion into your surrounding community no matter where you live. I grew up in a small Tennessee town where everyone worked together cohesively for the betterment of the community, school, and each other. I truly believe that one cannot succeed without the help of another! I want to give back not only to the Arthritis Foundation but also to JSU and the Jacksonville community because they have given so much to me!”
Whatever the cause may be, remember, that you can make a difference. The important thing is that you did something to help.
A bit of New Orleans made its way to Jacksonville this past week as JSU celebrated Mardi Gras culminating with its first ever Mardi Gras parade on Saturday, February 10.
The event was hosted by Alpha Omicron Pi to raise money for their philanthropy, Arthritis Research.
Mardi Gras is a thousands-of-years-old celebration that has roots in the Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Today, it is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Christian season of Lent—the 40 days preceding Easter. Mardi Gras festivities have gained particular notoriety in America in the post cities of New Orleans and Mobile, but the holiday is celebrated worldwide, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, England, Canada and Denmark. In Brazil, it is known as Carnival, a weeklong festival of vibrant colors, elaborate costumes, dancing, eating, drinking and celebrating.
JSU’s celebrations started early in the week on February 5, which included spreading word for the parade, encouraging people to attend and giving out traditional favors like beads and MoonPies.
“Planning this event was a blast,” AOII Philanthropy Chairman Hannah Blue said. “I got to meet so many people and network with my peers and people in my community.”
Rain may have put a damper on the parade route, but it couldn’t dampen the spirits of those in attendance.
The inaugural Mardi Gras parade began at 3 p.m. on Saturday, starting off at Bibb Graves Hall, traveling around Trustee Circle and concluding at the Alumni House. Miss JSU 2018 Lauren Reaves and Homecoming King and Queen 2017 Paris Coleman and Shea O’Donnell all braved the dreary weather to participate. There was also a Mardi Gras float and plenty of beads, candy and even more MoonPies.
When the parade was finished, the celebration continued with a red beans and rice dinner, raffles, prizes and a live jazz concert by members of the JSU Jazz program.
Students Bobbie Ann Oliver and Paul Hicks were crowned as JSU’s first ever Mardi Gras queen and king.
The event ultimately wound up raising over $9,000 for Arthritis Research, leading to an incredibly successful Mardi Gras celebration that will surely become an annual favorite on campus.