Mardi Gras parade goes off without a hitch

Manhattan residents Jennifer Stalder and her mother Patty Stalder were just two of the colorfully dressed fans of Fat Tuesday in downtown Lawrence Feb. 24, 2009, for a parade that grew to about 150 Mardi Gras revelers.

Downtown Lawrence felt a bit like New Orleans Tuesday as jesters and gypsies paraded down the sidewalks in celebration of Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday,” the annual day of revelry that precedes Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season.

Wearing a pink skirt and long purple tunic, Mike West tucked his hair under a bright red fedora.

“Should we assemble?” West asked the group of 30 or so in front of Aimee’s Coffee House, 1025 Mass. He strummed his banjo, and the group, in feathered masks, glitter and fairy wings, gathered behind him and started dancing.

West and his family moved to Lawrence in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, and brought with them a little Louisiana flair.

“Kansas is part of America and has every right to celebrate Mardi Gras, too,” West said. This is the second year West and his wife, Katie Euliss, have rallied a crowd. “We did it in the freezing rain last year and that’s when we knew that Midwesterners were made of tougher stuff and could celebrate in all conditions.”

By the time it reached Free State Brewery, 636 Mass., the parade picked up nearly 100 participants.

“It’s like quadrupled in size,” Euliss said. “We just really missed New Orleans and Mardi Gras.”

If you took part in the parade — or even just watched, submit your photos to