For a taste of authentic New Orleans flavor, look no further than Levine Marketplace and Northeastern’s 16th annual Mardi Gras shindig.
The exuberant celebration of jazz, Cajun cuisine, and culture—co-sponsored by Dining Services and Student Affairs—will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 9 p.m
“This was an event that started small, just as a way to take students’ minds off studying for a night,” said Debra Fantasia, Dining Services’ marketing director. “It’s grown into this huge affair where we transform the entire dining room into a version of Bourbon Street, and now it’s just part of our DNA” she added, referencing the street famous for revelry in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
As in years past, the event will feature authentic food and music. For example, students can enjoy king cakes—sweet breads traditionally associated with Christmas and Mardi Gras—direct from Manny Randazzo King Cakes in New Orleans. Fantasia said Dining Services has the cakes delivered overnight from the Louisiana bakery. The tradition started as a way to support New Orleans businesses after the region was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and has continued to provide an authentic flavor, literally, to Northeastern’s celebration.
“What better way to create an authentic event?” Fantasia asked.
“It’s grown into this huge affair where we transform the entire dining room into a version of Bourbon Street, and now it’s just part of our DNA.”
The Hot Tamale Brass Band, which Red Sox fans may recognize from their performances at Fenway Park, will also be roving through the dining hall on Tuesday to spice up the atmosphere with the big brass sound of a traditional second line band.
To further entrench students in the spirit, Mardi Gras beads and feathered masks will be available as well.
This year’s celebration will also feature three contests. In the first, an “M&M Mania Contest” that starts at 7:30 p.m., contestants will race to transfer M&M candies from one bowl to another using only chopsticks.
The second contest, which starts at 8 p.m., pits contestants against each other to see who can stack the tallest tower of pancakes using only a spatula. The final contest of the night, starting at 8:30 p.m., will test the limits of contestants’ appetites as they race to eat 10 bowls of cereal each.
In each contest, the winner will receive $100 cash. Students can sign up online for a chance to participate.
“I really enjoy the contests,” Fantasia said. “The contestants get so excited for it; they come in dressed up and ready to go. Really, though, the whole feeling of the event is just so good—it’s a great time for everyone there.”
Levine Marketplace will close at 4 p.m. on Tuesday so volunteers and staff can get ready for the evening’s celebration. Stetson West Eatery will remain open until 9 p.m. on Tuesday.