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Mardi Gras celebrations are coming to Frisco, Breckenridge

Mardi Gras in Summit

What: League for Animals and People of the Summit Mardi Paws Barkus Parade

When: 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14

Where: Parade begins at Second and Main Street, Frisco

Cost: Registration for the parade is $20 per dog for LAPS members, or $25 for nonmembers, and each additional dog is $10, plus additional processing fees

More information: Visit http://www.summitlaps.com for more details, a link to register and to download the required waiver for participation

What: Fat Tuesday Street Party, with live music from Chris Daniels & The Kings and other entertainment

When: 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17

Where: 100 and 200 blocks of South Main Street and the Blue River Plaza

Cost: Free admission; food and drink available for purchase at local restaurants

More information: Visit http://www.gobreck.com/events/mardi-gras

Laissez les bons temps rouler" — French for "Let the good times roll" — is a common expression in New Orleans. Those were Raymond "Griff" Griffin's parting words during a recent phone interview while he was on a trip to his old stomping grounds in Louisiana.

Griffin, now a Summit County resident and owner of The Lost Cajun restaurant franchise, said he went down south to attend parades and visit friends, almost in time for the biggest party of the year — Mardi Gras.

"Everyone loves a party," he said, "especially where you can throw beads and are expected to have some cocktails, and you can dress crazy, and you can wear a mask, so no one know that it's you that is acting so crazy."

That's Mardi Gras, all right, the now national tradition — a "Fat Tuesday" that is French in name and American in celebration.

“The Mardi Gras tradition started with our guests and it’s continued to evolve over the years.”Rachel ZerowinGoBreck

FAT TUESDAY TRADITION

This country's first Mardi Gras was actually celebrated 60 miles south of New Orleans, in the town now known as Mobile, after a settlement led by the French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville in the late 1600s.

Mardi Gras began in medieval Europe and moved through Venice and Rome and into France during the 17th and 18th centuries.

"The main reason for Mardi Gras is that it is the week before Lent, so that's when everyone drinks and eats all they want to, because once Lent starts for the Catholics on Ash Wednesday, then they have to give up something," Griffin said. "So, it's the last big party before Lent."

He said to keep true tradition alive here in the mountains, The Lost Cajun restaurants in Summit County have king cake — the sweet treat and tradition consumed by the hundreds of thousands during Mardi Gras in New Orleans every year.

"Inside the king cake is a little bitty baby that they hide in there," Griffin said. "And when they slice the cake, if you get the baby, then you have to buy the next king cake."

FRISCO FESTIVITIES

Griffin's own Lost Cajun-inspired adventures still have him down south, as he opens a number of new franchises inspired by his Summit County restaurants. This year will be the first Mardi Gras since Griffin moved to Summit County that he will not be in town for the festivities.

However, Griffin's spirit will certainly be in Frisco with that of his late wife, Belinda Griffin. She was the catalyst for the annual Mardi Paws Barkus Costume Parade. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with breast cancer before the event came to fruition.

The parade is on Saturday, Feb. 14, starting at 4 p.m. on Second Avenue and proceeding down the sidewalks of Frisco Main street, crossing over at Seventh avenue and back to the start. All participants are invited to dress up their dogs and family in costume.

Awards for best doggy costumes will be presented after the parade. Dogs can even dress for Valentine's Day and participate in the category of "Belinda's Valentine," to honor her legacy.

The Yappy Hour Street Party on Second Avenue will begin at 3 p.m. with Lost Cajun gumbo, wine, New Belgium beer, free hot cocoa and coffee, games and photo opportunities. Grab your gumbo and drinks before or during the parade and crowning. Proceeds from the event benefit the League for Animals and People of the Summit.

CELEBRATE IN BRECK

Breckenridge has a new celebration in the works for Mardi Gras this year. There will be no parade, but on Tuesday, Feb. 17, from 2 to 5 p.m., several blocks of Main Street will be shut down for the inaugural Fat Tuesday street party in the Blue River Plaza.

"The Mardi Gras tradition started with our guests and it's continued to evolve over the years," said Rachel Zerowin, public relations manager at GoBreck. "What makes it special is the combination of that authentic passion, the winter activities Breckenridge is known for and a great party where locals and visitors can bring their families."

Swing music from Chris Daniels & the Kings will fill the streets, along with towering puppets and a troupe of fire dancers. Cocktails will be available. After the celebration, local restaurants will be offering New Orleans-themed food and drink specials.