When you think of Mardi Gras, family-friendly festivities may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a week-long carnival featuring parades, masquerade balls, food, music and other themed celebrations. For most parents, these Bourbon Street-style parties aren’t a realistic option.
That doesn’t mean you can’t make your own Mardi Gras traditions here in New Jersey, or even in your own home. Kids will love experiencing the food, crafts and traditions of this bright, glittery excuse for a celebration.
Head Out on the Town
3rd Annual Asbury Park Mardi Gras
Where: Backwards Glances, 658 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park
When: February 10 from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Details: Give kids a taste of Fat Tuesday’s hoopla at Asbury Park’s 3rd Annual Mardi Gras celebration! All ages are welcome to partake in the afternoon’s creative festivities. Pick up a mask at Backwards Glances, then head out and grab some decor from participating downtown businesses. There will also be facepainting as well as prizes awarded for the best masks.
More Info: Visit www.facebook.com
Mardi Gras Cajun Food Fest
Where: The Fanwood Grille, 34 South Martine Avenue, Fanwood
When: February 13 from 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Details: If you can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Fanwood Grille may be the next best option for traditional Cajun fare. Load up on favorites, such as chicken gumbo, shrimp po’ boy sandwiches and crawfish etouffée. Plus, New Orleans jazz music and beads for the kids round out the experience. Reservations are recommended.
More Info: Visit www.facebook.com or call 908-322-9500
Throw a Mardi Gras Celebration at Home
For a Mardi Gras sugar rush
King cakes are a sweet treat associated with Mardi Gras. Named for the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, this oval-shaped cinnamon pastry is traditionally embellished with sugar in purple (representing justice), green (representing faith) and gold (representing power) and contains a creamy or fruity center. It’s also common to hide a plastic baby inside the cake before serving it.
It’s simple enough to bake your own king cake using Pillsbury Grand Cinnamon Rolls, canned icing and colorful sugar. See recipe here.
For a twist on the traditional king cake, concoct individual cupcakes using boxed cake mix, frosting and colorful toppings. Check out a sample recipe here.
For the real Mardi Gras look
Kids (and adults too!) can get creative with the fun tradition of wearing a colorful mask to celebrate Mardi Gras. Grab some blank masks at your local craft store or print an online template such as this one. Then adorn your mask with glitter, sequins, sparkly glue, feathers and lots of purple, green and gold. Masks can be tied on or held with a popsicle stick.
For a bit of Mardi Gras glam
You can pick up glitzy beaded necklaces at most party stores, but for a fun option, craft your own using cut-up straws, clay, painted pasta or strips of recycled magazines. Your little one will love rocking his or her own handmade jewelry. See instructions here.