The first Mardi Gras in the Park brought New Orleans-style king cake, beignets and bread pudding, as well as music and decorations to Kingsmen Park on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
The event, hosted by student life included activities such as mask making, using a variety of colored feathers and beads, and learning about traditional Mardi Gras celebration.
Mariela Gutierrez, a senior intern at Student Life, was the main organizer of the Mardi Gras event.
The main goal of the event was to give students an experience that was culturally authentic and accurate, as well as an opportunity to try traditional New Orleans food, Gutierrez said.
“I wanted to incorporate the history on it, as well as picking a [food] vendor I knew had that kind of background,” Gutierrez said. “We even flew in the king cake from Louisiana.”
King cake is a dessert that is only eaten during the Mardi Gras season. The cake is made of a brioche dough, mixed with cinnamon and decorated in green, gold and purple detail. Traditionally, a small figurine baby is hidden inside the cake and whoever finds the baby is supposed to host the next party.
“I wanted to incorporate something new here on campus,” Gutierrez said. “I wanted to have us learn more about different cultures, even [in] our own country that we don’t really know about.”
Junior Rebecca Moffitt, who attended the event, had never celebrated Mardi Gras or had an authentic New Orleans experience before.
“I think it’s cool to have all the little details,” Moffitt said. “Not to mention, the food is really good.”
Abigail Espinoza, a junior staff member of Student Life, also attended the event.
“Since I work in Student Life, I get to see what everybody is working on and how they go about planning the event,” Espinoza said. “Mariela [Gutierrez] has been working really hard to put this event on.”
The event was held in Kingsmen Park, which is located in the center of Cal Lutheran’s campus, surrounded by class-rooms, buildings, and students passing by.
“I think Kingsmen Park is a great place for [the event], because people just walking by can check it out,” Moffitt said.
Since authenticity was an important aspect of the event, the food was catered from vendor, West of Orleans Restaurant, a local family-owned business in Newbury Park that provides authentic style Creole, Cajun and Southern dishes. The event had cuisine that included vegetarian options, garlic bread and desserts such as bread pudding and beignets.
Espinoza said that last year she had traveled to New Orleans and was able to taste some of the authentic foods like beignets.
“I think the food is really good and the best you can get being from here,” Espinoza said.
Mardi Gras is considered the last day of the Carnival season. People gather, indulge in food and celebrate before the season of Lent starts. It is celebrated in all parts of the world, but in the United States, it is most popularly celebrated in New Orleans.