Undeterred by the cold weather Durham residents came out in droves this past Tuesday for the city’s 8th annual Mardi Gras celebration.
Durham Mardi Gras 2018
by: Josh Factor
photos by: Crystal Kelly
Durham’s Mardi Gras festivities begin at Major the Bull’s Plaza adjacent to the 21C Museum Hotel. The excitement started with a ceremonial tutu and Mardi Gras beads for Major the Bull.
The inclusive and diverse crowd was in high spirits as the ceremony began. Newcomers to the Mardi Gras festivities were welcomed with open arms by seasoned veterans of the parade and celebratory gathering. Many people congregated by Major the Bull to take pictures and show off their Mardi Gras spirit for social media, so many unique costumes, outlandish outfits, fun masks, and glorious make-up.
After completing the ceremony at Major the Bull, marchers began the traditional parade down Rigsbee to the DIY District north and east of Durham Central Park. The procession was led by this year’s Mardi Gras queen and the Bulltown Strutters. The Bull Town Strutters have been at every year of Durham’s Mardi Gras celebration. A goofy and lovable bunch of colorful Durham eccentrics, they keep the crowd spirited with their lively jazz compositions.
There was no shortage of joy and smiles as the parade headed down Foster Street. People jubilantly danced along to the music. Exuberant Mardi Gras partygoers built their own floats and formed their own krewes to demonstrate their beneficent Mardi Gras community spirit. The celebrants marched through the streets of downtown with pride, greeting passersby and onlookers stopped to watch the parade with good cheer, handing out beads and light up foam sticks to anyone who wanted them.
Upon arriving at Rigsbee, outside of MotorCo, the Bulltown Strutters kept the music going as dance circles formed in the street amongst the ecstatic throngs.
It was clear that the people came out to Durham Mardi Gras not just for the music and the fun, but also to show off their community pride. This evident community spirit and joy helped make the event special for everyone in attendance.
Eventually people began to head in to the various bars and venues to watch the live music and continue the celebration. There was live entertainment at MotorCo, The Blue Note Grill, The Pit, Fullsteam, and The Bar Durham, including a late night Drag Show. Numerous local bands made a raucous and joyful noise including the Boom Unit Brass Band, the Wiley Fosters, Coleslaw, The Tan and Sober Gentlemen, Ragweed Brass, The Cajammers, and Shamu Garcon.
The annual celebration we hold here in Durham is a great way to demonstrate civic pride and it provides a sense of camaraderie as well as the opportunity to represent the city in a positive manner.
Diversity, tolerance, and comradery were evident in abundance. It is that very Durham spirit that makes Mardi Gras such an enjoyable celebration for everyone.
Chrystal Kelly is a Durham based, concept driven, photographer. She specializes in creative portraiture and fine art photography. See more of her work at Shattering Light Photography.