Night review: The Links 6th Annual Mardi Gras Gala

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After being rescheduled due to the “winter storm” that the Charlotte area experienced the weekend before, the Crown Jewels Chapter of The Links Inc. held its 6th annual Mardi Gras Gala at The Blake hotel this past weekend. The weather undoubtedly caused a bit of a shake-up in logistics, but destiny kinda has a funny way of working these things out.

The Links’ Mardi Gras event actually ended up falling on the weekend before the final week leading up to one of the most famous Carnival celebrations in the world — the city of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 16. For about two weeks before and all through Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the city hosts several celebrations, with the final week hosting the largest and most over-the-top parades and shindigs of the season. So, basically, this week is kinduva big deal down there.

That being said, I’m sure it would take a lot more than three inches of snow on the ground to interfere with the New Orleans Mardi Gras. In fact, just about the only thing that could would even come close to causing the celebration to alter its traditional plans (like the parade krewes of Hyacinthians and Titans rolling an hour earlier than usual on Sunday) would be a little event known as the Superbowl, and only because the New Orleans “Who Dat” Saints, a team once referred to as the New Orleans Aints, were finally playing in it. And so it follows that the rescheduling of The Links’ Mardi Gras event actually went off with impeccable timing.

A veritable who’s who of Charlotte was on hand to partake, including Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, WSOC-TV News Anchor Erica Bryant, County Commissioner Harold Cogdell and Congressman Mel Watt. Indulging in their own version of a Mardi Gras parade, Links members danced, swayed and sashayed during the Second Line portion of the program in colorful outfits and carrying umbrellas that were as unique as they were elaborate. An array of green, purple and gold adorned every table and each piece of carefully selected décor, and masquerade masks shielded the faces of several in attendance.

Long before Colts quarterback Payton Manning threw the interception that basically ended the game, Saints fever was already at a high pitch. Having so much to play for, Who Dat nation has been in full swing for weeks now and ultimately silenced their naysayers on Sunday, yours truly included, who could do nothing but nod our heads in respect at the final score. So, it all seemed somewhat fitting for The Links Mardi Gras event to be, even if unwittingly, another spoke in the loudly churning New Orleans Saints victory wheel.

Though I’m not able to be among the revelers on Bourbon Street this week who likely won’t give a second thought to doing anything productive before next Wednesday given the Saints’ dramatic Superbowl win, it was nice to attend The Links’ Mardi Gras event this particular year and kind of gain an idea, even if just a glimpse, of what a frenzy the city of New Orleans must be in. Who dat, indeed.

— Angela Hilst

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