Who says you have to be in Louisiana to celebrate Mardi Gras? It might be a little colder in the Midwest when Fat Tuesday rolls around, but that just means a little more indoor partying. Cities around the Midwest do what they can to join the festivities. Attend any of these celebrations and you'll be able to get into the Mardi Gras spirit without heading to the Deep South.
Rush and Division streets are the closest thing Chicago has to Bourbon Street, so it's no surprise that they would be the site of the city's most enthusiastic Mardi Gras celebrations. In 2011, Division Street in particular was jumping, with clubs offering drink specials, live music, dance contests and beads. Proceeds from the events were even donated to the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. It wasn't an all-day, all-night extravaganza like the one in New Orleans, but even in Chicago there were street performers, brass bands and stilt walkers.
The party gets started early in Cleveland, when Fat Fish Blue, the Cajun pub at Prospect Avenue and Ontario Street, opens its buffet and begins serving drinks. The place has over 100 gallons of Hurricanes ready to go, but drinking isn't the only fun to be had; jugglers, magicians, mimes and musicians will do their best to make you forget you're in Ohio. At Sergio's Savara at Shaker Square, the atmosphere is Brazilian and so is the food. A three-week Carnival celebration culminates with a Mardi Gras menu and an explosion of music and drinks.
Partying on a Tuesday might be fine in New Orleans, but in Indy there's much work to be done on Wednesday morning so the party shifts to the weekend. On Saturday night, the city's Mass Ave arts district puts on its Mass Mardi Gras Mambo, complete with live music, art dealers and, of course, beads. Also on Saturday, the Vogue in Broad Ripple features dancing and more beads. The Jazz Kitchen on College Avenue goes for the Brazilian flavor with its Carnival celebration, with music and food that lasts until the wee hours of Sunday.
In 2011, the place to be for Mardi Gras in Milwaukee was the Turner Hall Ballroom, where the "astounding circus-punk marching band" Mucca Pazza was the headliner for the 88 Nine Mardi Gras Party. The radio station hosted a celebration that included not only fun music, but also Cajun food and the city's biggest king cake.
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