CARL KOLOGIE: Mardi Gras fun lasts all weekend
March 16, 2014 1:50 AM
by CARL KOLOGIE

Since 1984 there has been a Mardi Gras celebration in the community of Lake Wales, Fla.

Every year since then it got bigger and better, drawing crowds in recent years of up to 50,000 to watch the colorful parade and latch onto the beads that are tossed by the participants from their perch on the floats.

For the past several years I have been in Lake Wales for the parade and the weekend celebration.

Unlike New Orleans, when the parade is held on Shrove Tuesday before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the Lake Wales event begins the Friday before Ash Wednesday and lasts all weekend.

There is a 5K run on Friday afternoon followed by formal dances in the evening. Vendors fill the main plaza in downtown Lake Wales, a community about the same size as Indiana, and of course, the food is New Orleans-style with seafood, jambalaya and all the trimmings. It is a gourmet delight, without a doubt.

The colorful parade is the highlight of the weekend and although I don’t think there were 50,000 there, as in the past, the turnout is still very, very good.

Anyone who enjoys good food, live music and a festive atmosphere can find it all at the Lakes Wales Mardi Gras.

Indiana County residents vacationing in central Florida were spotted along the parade route.

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My brother Frank and I got a call from Indiana resident Jimmy Miller, who was on his way back to Pennsylvania after spending some time in Naples, Fla., with his daughter, Chelsey.

Frank was one of Jimmy’s teachers when he attended the Penn Hills School District, so they have known each other quite a while.

And we thank Jimmy for using his expertise in programming the code to open the gates at our community.

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Tom and Cherise Cunningham, of Cunningham Meats on Route 422, Armstrong Township, were here visiting Hank and Connie Minnich and hosted a grilled hot dog and baloney feast.

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On the golf course: I teamed up with Hugh McKee, retired Indiana painting contractor, for a game against the Perella brothers, Al and Terry, from Pittsburgh.

Al is a restaurateur in downtown Pittsburgh, where he owns and operates the Royal Oak Pub and Grille on Wood Street.

On the last hole, the Indiana team hit the clutch shots and came up with the win.

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Saturday afternoon we watched the IUP-West Chester game on the computer.

Congratulations to Joe Lombardi and the Crimson Hawks, who advanced to the semifinals of the Atlantic Region tournament with their victory.

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