By Inga Aksamit, Inga’s Adventures
Historic Nevada City, located in the Sierra Foothills, celebrates Mardi Gras with a Western flair on February 13-14, 2010.
Mardi Gras (also known as Carnaval), famously celebrated in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro, is an ancient tradition originating in the middle of the second century in Rome, when the Fast of the 40 days of Lent was anticipated by a celebratory feast lasting several days, when participants consider all pleasure allowable. Lent is period of penitence observed by some Christians from Ash Wednesday to Easter, though Mardi Gras is celebrated at different times in various locations.
This year Nevada City kicks off the 18th annual Mardi Gras celebration on Saturday night, February 13, with the Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball in the historic Miners Foundry at 325 Spring Street. The ball runs from 8 p.m. to midnight and features dancing to the southern rock of the Holcomb Brothers Band. Traditional Cajun fare will be available, including gumbo, prawns, red beans and rice and bread pudding. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door, but the event usually sells out so advance tickets are recommended. Call 530-265-2692 for information about tickets.
A free family parade will be held on Broad Street on Sunday afternoon, February 14 at 2 p.m. featuring masked and costumed characters who will be tossing beads and trinkets to the crowd. All are encouraged to wear festive Mardi Gras attire.
A Mardi Gras Street Faire will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on North Pine and Commercial Streets with food, drink, crafts and clothing booths making it a perfect family outing.
Nevada City, a historic gold rush town on the National Register of Historic places, is nestled into the heavily forested Western slopes of the Sierra. The town of 3,000 hosts several popular community events throughout the year, including a Christmas Festival, and this year will be hosting the first stage of the Tour of California bike race. These events typically cause the town to swell to many thousands for a period of time.
Local accommodations, typified by bed & breakfasts and small inns, book up early for these popular events, so reservations are encouraged. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce for information on lodging.
Nevada City is located in the western slope of the Sierra foothills mid-way between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.
To reach Nevada City from San Francisco by car (approximately 3 hours, depending on traffic and weather):
• Take Interstate 80 eastbound (stay on 80 through Sacramento) to Auburn
• Take SR 49 north to Nevada City
To reach Nevada City from Truckee by car (approximately 1 hour, depending on traffic and weather):
• Take Interstate 80 westbound
• Take Scenic SR 20 westbound to Nevada City