Norman holds 15th annual Mardi Gras parade 

Celebrate Fat Tuesday on Saturday, as Norman's 15th annual Mardi Gras parade makes its way through the Downtown Arts District.

Themed "Celebrating Ancient Cultures "? in a Time Warp," the family-friendly parade will feature scores of entries including floats, bands, Vikings, Romans in tie-dyed togas and life-sized cartoon characters.

"Basically, it's a celebration of the arts and community spirit," said parade chairman Ed Kearns. "It's an arts-based parade, so we wanted to have it in a very intimate setting, and it's right in the heart of the historic downtown area."

The parade will showcase the 2009 King and Queen of Mardi Gras, State Rep. Wallace Collins and his wife, Pat Collins. Also joining the parade is the Oklahoma Victory Dolls roller derby team, Norman Jazzercise dancers, the Norman Belly Dance Club and animals from Little River Zoo.

Parade judges will award Norman's "Wackiest Family," and give prizes to top entries. Kearns said Saturday's event is the only Mardi Gras parade in the state, and said he and organizers expect it to attract even bigger crowds than last year.

"The neat thing is just to see how creative people get," he said. "It's a fun family time and we'd just like everyone to come and join us and spend the evening in downtown Norman."

The parade begins at 6:45 p.m. at the Santa Fe Depot train station, 200 S. Jones, and proceeds north to Main Street, before turning east to Crawford Street then heading south to Comanche Street. The parade will make two loops. Parking is available at the city lot on Gray Street between Peters Avenue and Crawford Street. Admission is free. For more information, call 360-3279.

"?Caitlin Harrison

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