Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," was held this week with much fanfare. But it didn't end on Tuesday, because the holiday has been kidnapped by party planners.
There are scores of Marti Gras-themed parties, parades and dinners this weekend, leaving us wondering if any of these heathens even know the whole point of Mardi Gras.
Time was, "Mardi Gras season" meant the whole period of activity between Epiphany (12 days after Christmas) to Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent). Many Catholics and other Christians were taught as children to "give up something" for Lent.
But we don't like to give things up these days, so the party goes on. Here's a list of some of regional Mardi Gras celebrations this weekend and beyond:
• Fat Last Friday Mardi Gras Festival St. Petersburg's increasingly popular free Last Friday concerts in Williams Park turn to New Orleans for inspiration, with music by Gumbo Boogie, a Cajun Zydeco band. The concert is free, but $20 will get you VIP tickets that include dinner, beer and wine and hand-rolled cigars. Proceeds benefit the Abilities Foundation, the Wunsch Family Foundation and Pinellas Hope. lastfridayconcerts.com.
• Mardi Gras Mambo A concert featuring the Neville Brothers with Dr. John and Lower 9-11 at 8 p.m. Saturday at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $55-$75. (800) 826-9303, vanwezel.org.
• Rubonia Mardi Gras Parade and Festival Annual fun and funky parade in north Manatee county. This year's theme: "When I'm 64!", featuring a street party with entertainment, food and novelty vendors, Clydesdales and a bed race. The parade begins at 2:30 p.m.; the event lasts from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Bayshore Road area, in the Rubonia community of Palmetto. Free; proceeds from food sales benefit the children of Rubonia. wruboniamardigras.org.
• Universal Studios Florida The Orlando theme park is holding a Mardi Gras party every Saturday night until April 18. The night includes parades, confetti, New Orleans-style cuisine and lots of beads, as well as a concert series by artists ranging from Barenaked Ladies to Nelly. This Saturday's headliner: Pat Benatar. universalorlando.com/mardigras.