Keri Brenner

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March 1, 2014
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Mardi Gras celebration takes over Nevada City

The “New Orleans vibe” of Sunday’s Mardi Gras parade in Nevada City got hold of Walt Gray years ago — and never let go.

Gray, anchor and reporter at KXTV News 10 in Sacramento, is grand marshal of Sunday’s parade — repeating a role he previously held when the Mardi Gras festival was called Joe Cain Days.

“I was the grand marshal for the Joe Cain Days parade several years ago,” Gray said. “I was amazed at how well organized it was, how festive — and how hard the folks up there party.”

The parade starts at 2 p.m. Sunday along Broad Street in downtown Nevada City. More than 30 entries are expected, including three marching bands — Lyman Gilmore School, Nevada Union High School and Sacramento High School, said Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey.

“It’s a high energy parade,” she said. “We have bands playing, people dancing, doing Jazzercise.”

In addition, there is a Mardi Gras Street Faire on North Pine Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The faire includes food, drink, crafts and clothes.

Also, a Masquerade Ball will be held from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St. The Holcomb Brothers Band will play southern rock and Cajun food will be available for purchase.

Tickets (21 and over) are $12 advance at the Chamber office, 132 Main St., Nevada City or National Hotel, or $15 door.

For information, call 530-265-2692.

Festivities continue after Sunday’s parade with a Carnavale at Miners Foundry from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door, with children admitted free.

The Carnavale features a full bar for adults, New Orleans-style food, hot dogs, ice cream, desserts and specialty coffees.

Entertainment includes Cajun music, juggler and storyteller Izzi Tooinsky, drummers, belly dancers, and a bounce house.

Gray, a motorcycle rider, said he has traveled many times to Nevada County and is host of the charity ride for the Make-a-Wish Foundation ( On Sunday, however, his transportation is likely to be a carriage, which he will ride with his three kids — Abby, Kelly and Joseph.

He is married to TV10 meteorologist Monica Woods.

“I’ve been to New Orleans a few times,” Gray said. “And the vibe is the same (as Mardi Gras in Nevada County).”

Sunday’s weather might offer a break from recent showers, as the National Weather Service predicts a 30 percent chance of showers throughout the day under mostly cloudy skies and a high temperature of 54 degrees.

Other members of the Mardi Gras Court are: Sally Harris (queen), who is Nevada City Mayor and City Council member.

She serves on numerous local and regional commissions and committees. Paul Matson (king) is the longest-serving councilman in Nevada City Council history, having served five terms from 1978 to 1998.

He is president of the Miners Foundry Board of Directors. Paul Emery (Duke) is news director of KVMR FM Nevada City.

He is also executive director of The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. Gretchen Bond (Duchess) is executive director of the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. She has served as a leader in numerous local and regional arts and educational nonprofit organizations.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 503-477-4239.

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The Union Updated Mar 1, 2014 12:18AM Published Mar 2, 2014 11:24PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.