Detroit doesn't have a particularly large French population, but when it comes time to celebrate anything – for any reason – folks tend to come out in droves. The term "Mardi Gras" is actually French for "Fat Tuesday," a day of celebration and gorging before the fasting and deprivation of the Christian observation of Lent. It's become the American version of the Brazilian Carnival, and has earned New Orleans a well-earned reputation as Party Central. Well, the folks in the mitten would like to stake a claim as party animals as well.
Royal Oak's Mardi Gras & Music Festival provides metro Detroiters an opportunity to celebrate Fat Tuesday in a spectacularly festive way, offering drink specials, fantastic Mardi Gras menus, live music and free shuttle transportation from venue to venue. In all, there are 17 establishments participating in the downtown Royal Oak mini-festival, each offering a different perspective and celebratory atmosphere in honor of the holiday.
The eighth annual event kicks off at 5:30 p.m., requiring only a $10 donation in exchange for a lanyard that acts as your ticket to appetizers, drink specials, access to the venues for some fantastic live music and free shuttle rides between venues. Additionally, there will be a scavenger hunt this year that will encourage people to interact even more. There are great prizes (a plasma TV, Kindle Fire and a gift card basket worth over $300), and the hunt actually encourages participants to bounce from location to location, rather than parking themselves in one bar and not seeing all the festival has to offer.
The $10 donation will go towards finding a new location and other aid for the Royal Oak Community Farm, which is currently leasing its 11 Mile site from the School District. Since the farm's contract is not currently renewed for the 2012 calendar year, its organizers are looking for assistance. If that's not enticing enough for you to help out, you should also know that several local restaurants actually use produce from the farm (Café Muse, Lilly's Seafood, Inn Season Café and others). For more information about the farm, and for other ways to help, visit royaloakcommunityfarm.com.
Charities that have benefitted from the Mardi Gras extravaganza in the past have been Honor Flight Society, Michigan Humane Society and others. And what better way to help than by donating your money to a worthy cause and being able to party as a result? | RDW
Royal Oak Mardi Gras & Music Festival • 2/21, 5:30 p.m. • Check-in at the participating establishment where you purchased your ticket • 248.542.7625 • rorainfo.com • $10