Albany celebrates Mardi Gras

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Traditionally Mardi Gras is the big blowout of food, drink and music before the traditional Christian Lenten season leading up to Easter Sunday.

In Albany Mardi Gras was celebrated Saturday to attract crowds interested in having their full measure before Lent.

If it had legs, wings, fins or feelers it was fried, smoked, boiled or grilled to serve people at the Mardi Gras with an appetite for burgers, buffalo wings, fish or crawfish.

"This is our first time here in Albany," said Debbie Gunnells, who with her culinary partner Vickie Cardell sold their specialty, Polish sausage with fried onions and green peppers.

"We're from Griffin. We got online and we searched for festivals to go to. This Mardi Gras is great," said Gunnells. "The rain isn't bad at all. We'll be back next year."

Food, toy and costume vendors adapted to the showers during the day. It sprinkled -- out came the plastic sheeting over the displays. It stopped, the sheeting came off.

People in the street opened umbrellas or scooted to the sidewalks covered with awnings for shelter. It was as if all said, "The Mardi Gras must go on."

Mike Carnes, his wife Sherry and their daughter Taylor walked up Broad Avenue through the crowd as if dodging raindrops.

"It is just good to have something like this in town," Mike Carnes said. "It is for families. Everybody is friendly and nobody gets out of hand like in New Orleans."

There were booths selling alcoholic beverages, but if anyone got intoxicated it was on the music presented at the west end of the 200 block of Broad Avenue.

Two bands appearing during the 12-hour festival that featured local favorites such as the Bo Henry Band brought dancing to the streets in the middle of the afternoon.

The Broken Glass Band ran out of stage time but lead singer Melvin Harris wasn't ready to leave. Harris and his band didn't leave the stage until "Mustang Sally" slowed that old Mustang down. Wilson Pickett would have been proud of the band's rendition.

"We've played at every one of these. Nine years we've played here," Harris said. "This is just such a fun event for folks. I love doing the music for them."

Following the Broken Glass Band, the Levee band took the stage with vocal renditions by Jodi Mann. Bo Henry, a Mardi Gras organizer and well known for his band's music, said Mann was "awesome" and must be heard with The Levee's instrumental prowess.

Mann has a style all her own that led her bandmates with strong vocals that had the crowd applauding as well as rocking.

"That's my daughter," said Lynn Tatum as she moved to the music. "She's really good."

Mom Tatum would get no argument from the crowd as Mann matched a guitar riff with her rendition of a bluesy song.

The songs and mirth continued until midnight. Today there is a free event; "Sounds of Praise at the Park" is a musical event from noon to 6 p.m. at Veterans Park Amphitheater.