"If you can't be in New Orleans, be at Oddfellows Rest," said Oddfellows co-owner Liz Stirling. "We guarantee you the best northeast carnival experience."
The party is not limited to Feb. 24. At the Hoboken location on River Street, the party begins on Feb. 19, where there will be live funk and groove music from the band Soulfinger. The following day, The Blue People will perform their brand of live funky reggae, and on Feb. 21, Swampadelica, a funk and groove band, will grace the stage. For Fat Tuesday, members of NBC's Saturday Night Live band will perform in the band Gumbo Ya Ya all night.
"We are looking forward to entertaining the Hoboken crowds during the festivities," said Andy Bassford of the Blue People.
Peter Scantz of Soulfinger added: "This is one of the best parties in town. Don't sweat not going to New Orleans for the real thing. Everybody will have a good time at Oddfellows."
The Oddfellows in Jersey City will offer a party only on Feb. 24. To keep the hungry folks appeased, Oddfellows will offer authentic award-winning Cajun that is moderately priced. The signature dishes are crawfish etouffee, Bar-B-Que shrimp, jambalaya, catfish and po' boys and gumbo.
Both venues offer a voodoo bar and lounge area, pool tables and dart boards, a café area, and the best selections of New Orleans Hurricane drinks.
To better enjoy the Mardi Gras experience, people are encouraged to drink traditional Hurricanes. The drink is usually made up of an ounce and a half of light Bacardi rum, almost two ounces of dark Myer's rum, an ounce of orange juice, a shot of Alize red passion liquor, a teaspoon of grenadine, an ounce of sour cocktail mix and whiskey spiked tipsy cherries for décor. Stirling claims to have a secret recipe.
"Hurricanes are fruity and sweet when served on the rocks," Stirling said.
Frozen Hurricanes have more alcohol after-taste and the flavor is tropical. Since Hurricanes tend to be strong, some bartenders will allow patrons no more than three in a night. Some reports date the creation of Hurricanes to during the World War II era. Due to a shortage of whiskey, liquor salesmen in New Orleans forced bar owners to purchase more rum and to mix it with juices in order to preserve the whiskey. Bartenders began making a
fruit punch cocktail in a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp, and patrons began calling the drink Hurricanes.
"Rumor has it, the girls at Mardi Gras enjoy several Hurricanes before getting 'jiggy' with it," Stirling said.
Back in the day...
According to published reports about the holiday, Mardi Gras began long before Europeans set foot in the New World. In mid-February, the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus like festival not entirely unlike the Mardi Gras we are familiar with today. When Rome embraced Christianity, the early church fathers decided it was better to incorporate certain aspects of pagan rituals into the new faith rather than attempt to abolish them altogether. Carnival became a period of abandon and merriment that preceded the penance of Lent, thus giving a Christian interpretation to the ancient custom.
In 1699, it is believed Mardi Gras came to America with the French explorer Iberville. The holiday had been celebrated in Paris since the Middle Ages, where it was a major holiday. Mardi Gras's popularity grew, and French settlers in New Orleans began having large annual festivals. During the Great Depression, Mardi Gras's popularity declined in America, but after the '50s, New Orleans became the center of Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is on Feb. 24. Oddfellows Rest Louisiana Bar and Restaurants are at 80 River St. in Hoboken and 111 Montgomery St. in Jersey City. The Mardi Gras events begin on Feb. 19 and conclude on Mardi Gras on Feb. 24. For information call (201) 656-9009 or (201) 433-6999 or visit www.oddfellowsrest.com. Event sponsors include DonQ Rum, Stella Artois, Miller Lite, Nash Distributors, and Amstel Light.