Bring Out the Beads for Mardi Gras Celebrations

by Katie Pyzyk February 17, 2012 at 9:30 am 6,581 47 Comments

If you can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras on Tuesday, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. There are a number of options throughout Arlington for living it up with beads, food and music.

Arlington’s main event is the Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras Parade. The free event starts at 8:00 p.m. More than 40 local groups will march in the event, some with floats and the quintessential beads. The parade will run along Wilson Blvd from N. Barton St to N. Irving St. The following street closures will be in effect:

  • Wilson Blvd from N. Veitch St to N. Barton St will be closed from 6:45-9:30 p.m.
  • Adams St and Wayne St, between Clarendon Blvd and Wilson Blvd, will be closed from 6:45-9:30 p.m.
  • Wilson Blvd from Barton St to Irving St will be closed from 7:45-9:30 p.m.

In addition, street parking in the area will be restricted. Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. Parade-goers are encouraged to use Metro.

If standing outside for a parade isn’t your style, perhaps some of these other options will pique your interest:

  • Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Rd) promises a celebration of Bourbon Street proportions. The Lundi Gras Party and Dinner kicks things off on Monday at 6:00 p.m. An all-inclusive four course dinner is offered, along with jazz music. On Tuesday, the party starts at 5:00 p.m. with “Parade Route Fare” like gumbo, muff-a-lottas, crawfish etouffee and oysters. Various ticket options are available for food, alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks. Contact the restaurant for ticket options at 703-243-2410 or online.
  • Union Jack’s (671 N. Glebe Rd.) is turning the obligatory Mardi Gras bead throwing into a contest to see who can collect the most. Prizes and specials are available throughout the night, and the evening’s grand prize will be a New Orleans trip.
  • You don’t have to have a night out to enjoy some king cake. Pick up one of the fruity, colorful concoctions from Heidelberg Bakery (2150 N. Culpeper St) and enjoy hunting for the plastic baby in the comfort of your home. The bakery is taking advance orders.
  • Maybe you can’t wait until Tuesday to begin celebrating. In that case, Lucy’s ARL (2620 S. Shirlington Rd) may be the answer, with its N’awlins-style Mardi Gras on Saturday. Starting at 8:00 p.m., jambalaya, oyster po’ boys and a crawfish boil will be accompanied by festive drinks and music. Free pool will be offered all night, and bead contests take place every half an hour. Tickets can be purchased online.
  • Piola (1550 Wilson Blvd) is also starting the festivities early, in addition to focusing on Rio instead of New Orleans. Its 5th Annual Carnival Party takes place on Saturday starting at 9:00 p.m. Brazil’s national cocktails, caipirinhas and  caipiroskas, will be served while a live band gets people moving to samba music. Feathers, costumes and masks are encouraged. Contact the restaurant for reservations.
  • A number of churches mark Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, with traditional pancake suppers. Because in ancient times people used up all the sugar, fat, flour and eggs in their homes to observe fasting during Lent, many made pancakes. One of the churches having a pancake feast is St. John’s Episcopal Church (415 S. Lexington St). Everyone is welcome from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12 and free for children under 6. A food donation of cereal is also requested. St. George’s Church (915 N. Oakland St) will also hold a pancake supper. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 2-12 or $15 for a family.

  • So Stupid

    What a dumb idea to close off streets on a weeknight. I guess people who live in that area and need to drive home from work are just screwed. Because hollering drunk people feeling pleased with themselves is what’s important.

    The very concept is stupid, as well. What are we celebrating? The beginning of Lent? Are we all Catholic? This isn’t New Orleans.

    • MC 703

      1/365 and you’re a stick in the mud

      • sue

        Agree- take a bike or metro home.

    • CrystalMikey

      Well, bah humbug to you too. I like the idea of this and don’t mind them closing the streets down, and I live on the parade route.

    • DT

      LOL…no this isn’t New Orleans, and this will hardly be the same as Mardi Gras there, so you should probably just relax. Some people actually like to have fun and enjoy breaking up the monotony of the normal day to day weekday routine with celebrations like this. There are still plenty of roads around the route you can take to get home, and then come Wednesday all will be back to normal.

    • Good Grief

      Did you celebrate St. Valentines Day or St. Patty’s Day? Both also Catholic holidays.

      • novasteve

        Did streets get closed for St Paddies day or valentines day?

        • John B

          Streets do get closed for St. Patrick’s Day in Arlington. The area around Ballston was closed off a few years ago, for example. Of course that was for a ShamrockFest…

        • westover

          on St.Patricks day yes they did, St.Patricks day parades

        • Good Grief

          My comment was geared for the “Are we all Catholic?”

      • drax

        And of course Christmas and Easter are also Catholic holidays, though they are also celebrated by non-Catholics.

        Halloween was once a religious holiday too.

        So Stupid probably sits on his front porch and yells at trick-or-treaters to get off his lawn.

    • You are a Donk

      I hope a drunk parade-goer drops a deuce on your front porch!

      • j

        frickin brilliant response!

    • Sgt. Hulka

      Lighten up, Francis.

    • John Fontain

      ” Because hollering drunk people feeling pleased with themselves is what’s important.”

      I take it you haven’t been to this parade. It’s basically aimed at families, especially those with young children. I can’t recall seeing any hollering drunk people.

    • R. Griffon

      Amen brother. I can’t believe they built Arlington with only one single road going through it. Once they close that down, we’re all screwed! Might as well sleep at the office.

      Why doesn’t somebody build another road that we could use? Just one?!! It’s lunacy I tell you.

    • gloria dickison

      being from the south, i’m happy to get a small taste of a great tradition/holdiay.

  • Eric

    I have never seen a fun group of girls get rowdy and show there ta ta’s at the Arlington Mardi Gras. Here is to a group of girls letting loose and dropping there uptight guard for just once this celebration!

    • OldTimer

      Need to bus some in from Reston!!!!!

  • novasteve

    While I think the fears of drunks everywhere are certainly misplaced, it really is a family event, I have never noticed anything like Bourbon street here, nothing close. HOWEVER, that being said, can you name me any other religious holidays of other religions where Arlington county has closed down streets for events?

    Why don’t we get streets closed for Purim?

    • Clarendon

      You can close down the streets. Just organize a parade, get a permit and pay the police fee. Anyone can do it.

    • John Fontain

      To call this a religious parade is nonsense. It has about as much to do with religion as the superbowl.

      • Bill A.

        True, it’s not a religious parade. But what exactly is it celebrating? Christmas, Valentine’s, etc., have all broadened beyond their original intent to become wider cultural traditions–I think mainly because people like giving gifts at the end of the year and doing nice things for their loved ones.

        But Mardi Gras? It’s in this weird period in late February when nothing is really going on. And there’s no wider part of the tradiiton. It’s just–people parading and throwing beads.

        I’ve enjoyed it before (in NO) but have to agree with the befuddlement about extending it to cities that have no longstanding tradition of celebrating it. (Though I think the first one was actually in Mobile.) I admit I don’t know what it’s celebrating, either.

        • Weird

          That’s is the point.

    • drax

      If you can get bars to serve drink specials for Purim, Steve, you’ll be in business.

    • R. Griffon

      Nobody’s stopping you from having a Purim festival. Get a plan together, file the necessary paperwork, and pay the associated fees. Done.

  • awh hells bells

    I propose less stringent indecent exposure laws for a few hours to coincide with the festivities. What’s a bead contest without some unexposed breasts in the mix?

    • awh hells bells


  • SomeGuy

    Something tells me that the acquisition ritual for beads at this parade will not resemble that of the real Mardi Gras. But maybe Bayou Bakery’s inclusion of “muff-a-lottas” among their parade route fare has potential?

    • Clarendon Skank

      Show me your d*ck!

      • SomeGuy

        Arlnow.com no longer allows photo uploads in the comments. Can you post your email address?

  • BreakPause02

    Wonder if I’ll have to tow anyone out of my driveway this year.

    • R. Griffon

      Seriously? You mean total strangers will just park right in your driveway and wander off? The mind boggles.

  • GreaterClarendon

    It would be nice if they could somehow separate one side of the street for families (or at least one portion of one side of the street), and one side for the people who want to party. Last year my 4 year old was in tears since none of the 20 somethings stayed on the curb (where we had been before the parade in a great location), and kept grabbing the best beads before they would make it to the curb. If you are are an adult and don’t feel you need to stay on the curb and it is important to jump in front of children, please be kind enough to consider passing some decent beads (not just cheap ones) to the kids behind you.

    • Clarendon

      Where I was last year, it was the little kids snatching up all the beads. But, I agree with your basic point – help those in need. Don’t like segregating the crowd though – its Mardi Gras, a little chaos is called for.

    • Ballston Irish

      If you post up away from the bars you should be fine. Down by the Whole Foods is probably your best bet.

    • SomeGuy

      As GreaterClarendon suggests, I’d be in favor of separating kids from adults for this. Of course, the best way I see to achieve that separation is to keep kids at home (or out of the raucous areas) if they won’t handle the scramble well. But at least if they were segregated, others could enjoy the event without having to deal with and/or accommodate people’s children.

    • drax

      If 20-somethings did that to my kid, I’d be out there in front of THEM.

  • JamesE

    Ballston-Rosslyn corridor should be open container for this.

    • SomeGuy

      Absolutely. Open shirt too.

  • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

    in another 20 years this event will finally be fun and useful. keep up the program building.

  • awh hells bells

    I don’t agree with your blaming the ails of society on 20-somethings or the notion that ‘they’ (whose ‘they’ anyway) should seperate party-goers.

    I doubt children residing in Clarendon will go wanting for a lack of cheap plastic trinkets. Until King Midas or Mr T have their own float, and start throwing out some real bling, I’ll consider all plastic bead necklaces to be cheap.

    Teach your rugrat the value of scrappiness. I’m sure many 20-somethings would be bemused at some tyke going after them over some beads. He/she will then have graduated into the ranks of a street-urchin, a cutthroat breed full of guile and duly unaware of suburban parental lament that his wants (not needs) are not fulfilled.

  • Innocent animals

    Please stop with all the pork eating!

  • Cute puppy

    Leave the chickens alone!

    … and all the ungulants

  • John Andre

    This will be one of the last Gottaswing swing dances at the Clarendon Ballroom…they are moving their dance classes to the Carlyle Club in Alexandria in March.

  • Punxy

    It’s a family event — not drunken — someone has a strange vision of Arlington. And last year because Mardis Gras and St Paddy’s were close together they combined the parades. It is an AWESOME opportunity to go OUTSIDE and hear some live roots rock music for free. And commuters? metro? Lee Highway? Both open. No worries. Just shift your DRIVE 2 blocks. My goodness. I know you can’t see your TV from the street, but you might actually meet LIVE people.


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