LU hosts Mardi Gras at Warch Campus Center

Suzie Kraemer

Students and faculty who travelled to China over winter break. (byron grant)

In my Catholic family, Mardi Gras is usually a sad day. There is no celebration, only sad thoughts about how starting tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, you won’t be able to eat chocolate or bite your nails for the next 40 days.
At Lawrence, however, Mardi Gras is no solemn event. Anyone who set foot inside the campus center Tuesday was immediately attacked by thousands of small pink puffs of cotton candy floating through the air.
Purple, green and gold beads were everywhere and dangling from everyone’s necks. Posters directed people downstairs to where the Nathan Marsh Pusey Room had been transformed into a casino with a dozen tables for playing blackjack and poker.
Each person was given $5,000 in “Funny Money,” Lawrence’s Mardi Gras currency, upon entry. At first I didn’t think the money was funny at all; it served only to remind me that I will soon graduate and be forced out into the cruel world and the currently unstable economy.
Luckily, one of the SOUP members explained that we could gamble and use the money we “earned” to buy raffle tickets and win REAL prizes! This was the best news!
I set off for the blackjack tables with high hopes of winning millions in humorous cash and exchanging them for billions in raffle tickets. I snuck a peek at the prizes and found that there were tons to choose from. There was a $20 gift certificate to Chipotle, an iPod Shuffle and even a Harry Potter DVD!
Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on your perspective – no decisions needed to be made since I lost all my money almost immediately. Apparently the bad luck was not contagious, because there were plenty of people with piles of money laughing their way to the prizes with dozens of raffle tickets in hand.
Mardi Gras in English translates to Fat Tuesday and after this event I can understand why. There was a whole game dedicated to eating cake. The point of King’s Cake is that if you bite into a piece and do not chip a tooth on a plastic baby that has been cooked into the dessert intentionally, you lose.
There were many competitive Lawrentians with pained yet determined faces who were working on their sixth and seventh slices. Anyone who was still hungry after the King’s Cake enjoyed a wonderful buffet provided by Bon Appétit, complete with tiny sandwiches and catfish fingers.
At 11 p.m. students scrambled to exchange their Funny Money for raffle tickets before the last drawing occurred. Excitement was in the air as Mike McCain from SOUP called off the numbers of the winning tickets for gift certificates to what seemed like every restaurant on College Ave.
Even those with rotten luck walked away happy. They knew they could snatch that one last piece of King’s Cake on the way out and this time they would find that baby!
Lawrence Mardi Gras was a night when Lawrentians could unwind before the last few weeks of classes and finals week. I got to be stress free, play blackjack and eat catfish fingers like there was no tomorrow.
Sadly, “tomorrow” came anyway. The 40-day period of Lent has begun, but I will be able to endure this season with fond memories filled with green, purple and gold.

Students and faculty who travelled to China over winter break. (byron grant)

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