Feb
27

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

The Anacostia Community Museum celebrated Carnival with a Mardi Gras Family Day on Feb. 20. The event had been postponed because of the blizzards earlier in the month, but even on a Saturday, the spirit of Fat Tuesday prevailed.

Brittney Oliver displays her collection of beads. (Photo by Harold Dorwin)

Brittney Oliver displays her collection of beads. (Photo by Harold Dorwin)

The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, but the origins of the Mardi Gras we celebrate today– with Kings, parades, Mardi Gras colors and brass bands–are traced to New Orleans.

The museum resounded with the driving rhythms provided by WPFW-FM radio  personalities Zydeco DJ Cowboy Fred ( Frederick  Carter) and Yummy Tyler and a live performance by the group Cosita Seria. The music inspired impromptu dancing as visitors explored several activities in the museum’s intimate space.

Children could fashion an elaborate costume, create a mask using feathers and sequins, have their faces painted and learn about Mardi Gras traditions through the storytelling of the imposing, green-masked Mardi Gras “Indian Chief” Robert Lee. Although the crowd was relatively small because of the weather, their enthusiasm for the celebration was large and many were reluctant to leave when the day’s events came to a close.

Januwa Moja helps Joy Manley with her headdress. (Photo by Harold Dorwin)

Januwa Moja helps Joy Manley with her headdress. (Photo by Harold Dorwin)

Mardi Gras Indian Chief and storyteller Robert Lee. (Photo by Harold Dorwin)

Mardi Gras Indian Chief and storyteller Robert Lee. (Photo by Harold Dorwin)


Posted: 27 February 2010
About the Author:

Harold Dorwin is a longtime Smithsonian photographer now based at the American History Museum and a frequent contributor to The Torch and Smithsonian magazine. He is a member of the White House News Photographers Association, National Press Photographers Association and The National Press Club.