Sound the trumpets! — Nevada City pulls out all the stops for its annual Mardi Gras celebration |

Sound the trumpets! — Nevada City pulls out all the stops for its annual Mardi Gras celebration

Royal court troubadour Andrew Perret heralds the king and queen at the Little Rascals Mardi Gras Ball in Kenner, La., Thursday, Jan. 25. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)


WHAT: 26th Anniversary Celebration of Nevada City’s Annual Mardi Gras Parade & Street Faire

WHEN: Parade at 2 p.m., Street Faire 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Downtown Nevada City — Broad, North Pine and Commercial Streets

INFO: or 530-265-2692

It’s well known — and has been well documented — that Nevada City is a lively place. No matter the month, occasion, or weather, its residents and visitors will find a way to celebrate. Naturally, Mardi Gras is no exception.

Rain or shine, the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce will hold their 26th annual celebration of Nevada City’s Annual Mardi Gras Parade and Street Faire Sunday, Feb. 18, to those seeking to let the good times roll.

In true Nevada City fashion, the festivities aren’t contained to just one day; this past weekend found an elaborately decorated Miners Foundry hosting the unofficial kickoff to all things Mardi Gras with their Masquerade Ball featuring Sacramento merrymakers Mumbo Gumbo.

The Foundry’s Jesse Locks said, “The Masquerade Ball, similar to Fright Night and the New Year’s Eve Bash, is a fun and festive way for locals to come together, usually while dancing to a great band.”

Locks added, “Next year, the Masquerade Ball and the Chamber’s parade will fall on the same weekend so it will be double the fun!”

And so it begins …

This Sunday, the Street Faire will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on North Pine and Commercial Streets, with vendors offering everything from beads to masks, snacks to beverages.

The parade — reliably a festive occasion — will begin at 2 p.m. and will feature some of the area’s most beloved institutions including the California Consolidated Drum Band, Sacramento Youth Band, Parrotheads of Northern California and the Merry Widow Society. Fan favorite Claude — The Fire-Breathing Dragon will also make an appearance on the parade route.

Revelers are encouraged to dress in purple, green, and gold — traditional Mardi Gras colors — or anything whimsical that strikes their fancy. Boas, masks, and sequins are found around every corner, with many merchants getting in on the fun.

Keeping with tradition, parade attendees can also expect beads; lots and lots of beads.

Those who plan the Mardi Gras parade each year are tasked with selecting individuals who have made a positive and indelible impact on the community. Those chosen are appointed to a royal court and are recognized during the parade for their contributions.

This year’s court is led by Sage Arias (King) and Cynthia Levesque (Queen), Tom Taylor (Grand Duke) and Jeannie Wood (Grand Duchess).

Niel Locke and John Parent will serve as Grand Marshals, and Pat Dyer will be your Master of Ceremonies.

The streets will come alive

The spirit of the street finds its way into local businesses as well. Cindy Giardina, owner of Golden Era Lounge on Broad Street, said that parade day also means a celebratory atmosphere, something not typical for a weekend day.

“We are as busy as a typical Saturday night except this is a Sunday afternoon and evening,” Giardina said. “We open earlier, staff dresses in costume for the event, and we get into the same festive mood. We try to bring the parade feeling into Golden Era. The atmosphere is very festive and party-like. Lots of great costumes, and terrific energy!”

Up and down the streets of Nevada City, the party will continue well into the evening. Golden Era will host dance band World Beatnix from 4-7 p.m.

Beginning at 3:30 p.m., Crazy Horse Saloon & Grill will open the dance floor for DJ Fossil and their Mardi Gras Funk Party.

Matteo’s Public will feature popular Irish/Scottish band Three Time Through starting at 6 p.m.

Although Mardi Gras is often affiliated with rowdiness and boisterousness, Nevada City once again sets itself apart by making the events largely family-friendly. Children line the streets and take in the parade, waving their hands in excitement and pursuit of the flashiest beads.

The events are generously sponsored by local businesses who welcome the chance to open their doors on a decidedly celebratory occasion.

“We fully embrace the opportunity to support the community,” Giardina said. “Mardi Gras is another example of the unique character and culture of Nevada City. It’s a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in Nevada County.”

Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at

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