Borrowing bayou staples of tradition and the "fun of Mardi Gras," Hotel Congress continues its tradition of bringing a little piece of Louisiana to the desert.
On Fat Tuesday, Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., brought a Mardi Gras party to downtown Tucson. It featured culture from the bayou and gave locals, and travelers, an excuse to dress up and have a good time.
Bringing traditions from New Orleans, Congress was decorated head to toe with purple, gold and green beads. Traditional bayou comfort food was made for this event, as well.
This event is new on the list of Congress' "parties." It is known for having extravagant parties for Halloween and New Year’s Eve, but this event has made the list as one of the biggest according to booking director David Slutes.
Slutes said the first year the event took place it was raining heavily, so the hotel was not expecting anyone to show. Remarkably, the community of Tucson showed their excitement and love of partying for Mardi Gras, and came to celebrate anyways.
“We decided … that’s it; we are going to become the place for Mardi Gras in Tucson,” Slutes said.
With the first year being such a success, the hotel decided the second year could kick it up a notch. The Mardi Gras party this year would be bigger and better, according to Slutes.
The managers and staff decided it was time to go all-out and bring the Tucson community what they were craving: a real, genuine, bayou party that embodied the culture of Louisiana while also giving it a Brazilian/Carnival flair.
“People needed it, no one else was doing it, so here we go,” Slutes said.
The hotel was dressed up in streamers, colorful lights and beads. People were dressed in purple, green and gold outfits, including glitter and hats while live music played for guests to dance to.
The event’s Master of Ceremonies, Frank Powers, was dressed in a purple tuxedo adorned with green and gold beads and had his face painted.
“I like the excuse to dress up,” Powers said as he handed out free beads. They were little trinkets to help celebrate and spread the joy of partying along to guests.
He wanted to be there to celebrate with everyone and show how special Mardi Gras is. It's like every event that happens at Hotel Congress: a big party.
Being an all-age, inclusive event, the hotel hosted tarot card readings, face paintings, live music and traditional Louisiana foods like gumbo and jambalaya.
A major feature of this event included the “largest King Cake,” giving guests the opportunity to have free cake, while also trying to see who the lucky guest was to find the baby in their slice of cake.
Mardi Gras at Hotel Congress attracts not only college students, but those who's ages range from 6 to 65. According to Slutes, being able to bring in a such a diverse crowd is what the hotel wanted to achieve.
“It’s a Tuesday night in February, turns out, people do want to party,” Slutes said.
Hotel Congress is already planning for next year’s event, bringing to the table a more Latin twist by incorporating a Brazilian Carnival theme into the Mardi Gras mix.
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