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Gordon students fete Mardi Gras with beads, King Cake

KINGSTON — Students at Gordon Elementary School put on their Mardi Gras party hats, or rather, paper crowns, Tuesday as Kingston resident Wendy Tweten and her mother Lillian Asher turned Donna Faulk’s second-grade class room into a replica of downtown New Orleans.

With hands flailing in the air, the kids jumped and screamed, “Throw me something!” as Tweten produced an arm full of authentic Mardi Gras beads, reminiscent of the craze that fills the party capital of the United States every year Feb. 18-28.

“Did you know that if you lived in New Orleans, you wouldn’t be in school today because (Mardi Gras) is a holiday?” Tweten asked the class. “And it’s not just today, they celebrate a lot.”

Wearing traditional Mardi Gras apparel, Tweten and Asher — the latter who was driven out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina while visiting — described to the restless crowd how the celebration in New Orleans is an extensive endeavor spanning over several days.

They explained how people get together in groups called krewes to design floats for the parades and how the celebration is filled with feasting and parties. In addition to teaching the kids what the words Mardi Gras mean — Fat Tuesday — Tweten and Asher also described the lavish apparel that people wear during the festival, including brightly-colored outfits, crowns and beads.

But the most exciting part of the celebration for the kids was indulging in the traditional King Cake, excitedly searching for the “baby.”

“Last year, I thought I had the baby in my cake, but right when my friend Reese was about to take a big bite, the baby was in his piece!” second-grader Blake Hage said with a laugh as he designed his paper crown.

This year, it was Riley Lint and Shannon Gill who found the baby, so the two were crowned Mardi Gras king and queen of the class’ celebration.

“(Traditionally), if you find the baby, it means you have to throw the next party,” Asher told the class. She also noted that the celebration would cease Wednesday and a season of meditation would begin.

“Then you spend 40 days to reflect on yourself,” she said.

Reflecting on the celebration, Faulk’s students got the gist of what Mardi Gras is all about.

“You’re supposed to have a party and have a good time,” Kellson Arthurs said.

“And eat a lot!” Meghan Elliott added.

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