Houston to Get Its Own Mardi Gras Celebration in 2012

Another year of Mardi Gras celebrations have come and gone for the city of Galveston. The event drew thousands to the island, and is always a major boost to the local economy. But next year Houston will be getting in on the action. The first annual Houston Mardi Gras is set to kick off in February 2012. Wendy Siegle has more on what this means for the city.
(Mardi Gras sounds of loud cheering)

The Galveston Mardi Gras celebrated its 100th birthday this year. And in 2012, Houston will be celebrating its first. With a lot of people moving here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, there’s an added incentive to bring the party to Houston, and give it its own local flavor.

Jeri Brooks is Executive Producer for Houston Mardi Gras. She says there’s no reason why Houston shouldn’t have its own “Fat Tuesday” celebration.

“Houston is the major economic power in this region. We have lots and lots of people from New Orleans, and just from all over the world who live here who may want to experience Carnival.”

Almost all the money from Mardi Gras will go towards scholarships for Houston students. Brooks has partnered with local New Orleans natives to bring some authentic New Orleans traditions to the city. Harvey Yancey moved to Houston after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“You get homesick. And for us, that’s where a lot of this comes from — filling that void of wanting to do the things we used to do when we were at home.”

Yancey co-founded Cloud 9 Entertainment. Cloud 9 will help bring Mardi Gras favorites such as the brass band, the Masquerade Ball, and the “Fat Tuesday” parade to the streets of Houston next year.

“It’s going to be its own unique event, with that flavor. Galveston will be a completely different experience; New Orleans will be a completely different experience. You have to come to the Houston Mardi Gras to get what we offer.”

The 2012 Mardi Gras already has its own theme song. “I Am Creole,” was written by Ashley Forrestier, a New Orleans native and Katrina evacuee who now resides in Houston.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to be gone for three days; I’ll be back.’ And I could never go back home. You know, so many people lost their lives, and to see that something like that can push us here — and then spark Houston Mardi Gras — that is amazing.”

Forrestier still gets nostalgic about the life she left behind, but is happy she will be a part of the first Houston Mardi Gras.

Back with Jeri Brooks. She says the event is still in the planning stages, so details like where it will be held are not yet confirmed. She does say it will be a family event, for all ages to enjoy.

“I think it’s time for us as a leader in the region to bring this event together and encourage other people to come and visit Houston. You know beyond the small businesses that will be involved, beyond the hotels, beyond the entertainers, beyond the large organizations and sponsors and the community, it just becomes that perfect storm, where everybody gets to win, and that’s what we’re hoping to have happen.”

(Mardi Gras music).



This is a KUHF staff story, reported by Evin Erdowdu and voiced by Wendy Siegle.