Did you know it's already Mardi Gras season? While technically "Mardi Gras" refers to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which for 2020 means Tuesday, February 25th, 2020, the Mardi Gras season is celebrating from the time after Epiphany (January 6th, 12 days after Christmas) until the day before Ash Wednesday! And even more fun for Siouxland Families: our sister city is Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is basically the capital of family-friendly Mardi Gras! I reached out to the Lake Charles tourism office, and they responded with tons of Southern hospitality and great ideas for celebrating Mardi Gras with kids. I added a few of my own, and I hope they inspire you to have a great day with your family:
The Colors of Mardi GrasThe traditional colors of Mardi Gras are yellow, green, and purple. Combine them all for the most fun effect, whether baking, decorating your home, making a craft, or getting dressed!
Eat a Kings CakeKings Cakes are a quintessential Mardi Gras treat! Traditionally, a toy "baby" representing Jesus, or a bean, is hidden in a yeasted, cinnamon filled cake, and whoever finds it in their piece is the "king" of that Mardi Gras celebration. A Hershey's kiss another fun option to hide in the cake! You can bake your own with this delicious recipe from the Lake Charles website, or you can order an authentic Louisiana King Cake from many bakeries, including Rouse's Market and Delicious Donuts & Bakery in Lake Charles!
Another option is pancakes; traditionally eaten to use up ingredients people might be giving up for Lent, they're still a Mardi Gras classic. IHOP in Sioux City is offering a free short stack of pancakes on Mardi Gras (with donations encouraged, to be given to charities including the Children's Miracle Network) so be sure to stop by if you are a pancake lover.
Get into the Mardi Gras grooveDelight your ears with some Louisiana Mardi Gras style--fill your playlist with cajun and zydeco music! There are tons of options online on sites like Spotify, and the Sioux City Public Library even has a few zydeco CDs that card holders can check out!
Eat Cajun foodGumbo is the food of choice for Mardi Gras, especially if it's cold, according to our friends in Lake Charles. Gumbo is essentially a soup full of Cajun flavor. You can buy canned gumbo, but for the best flavor, try making your own, like this shrimp gumbo from Lake Charles, or The Gingered Whisk's Princess Tiana Gumbo. Not a gumbo fan? Try the Lightened-Up Grilled Chicken Cajun Penne from Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats.
Make a Mask
Costumes and masks are always fun, but they're especially fun at Mardi Gras! Try decorating your own masks with your kids, using feathers, sequins, and whatever else makes you happy, then toss on some beads and hold your own Mardi Gras parade around your house!
Road TripGoing to Louisiana is peak Mardi Gras goals, and something on my personal bucket list is definitely to visit Lake Charles! They have parades for kids, pets, and everybody else, plus costume balls, beads, music, food, and so much more to celebrate Mardi Gras. Lake Charles is also a fun destination any day of the year, with over 75 festivals each year, a children's museum, Creole Nature Trail, a WWII ship you can play laser tag in, and tons of other fun. To find out more about Lake Charles, visit their website or connect with them on Facebook.
If Louisiana is too far for a trip on a Tuesday, try Omaha instead. The new Acadian Grille gets rave reviews for their Cajun food and other delicious fare!
However you choose to spend it, I hope that on Mardi Gras, you and your family laissez les bon temps rouler (Let the good times roll!) Thank you to the Lake Charles CVB for the wonderful suggestions!