Mardi Gras season begins on January 6th and unfolds over weeks, culminating in parades and celebrations on Fat Tuesday. It’s a time of community gatherings, of shared stories and traditions, of celebration and preparation.

Throughout Glen Arden’s history, there has been a large contingent of campers and staff who travel from Louisiana to attend sleepaway camp in the mountains of North Carolina, which makes a camp wide Mardi Gras celebration a natural fit. On the second Tuesday of the June session, the Evening Activity is dedicated to Mardi Gras, Glen Arden style.

Paying homage to the season’s colors of purple, green and gold, the dining hall is decorated without restraint, and campers set aside their dinner blues for purple, green and gold clothing, beads, crowns, and masks.

After a meal born on the bayou, complete with red beans and rice, jambalaya and king cake, the Louisiana-born campers and counselors retreat to don Mardi Gras costumes handed down through the decades and decorate the float. All of the other campers and staff line the edge of the lower athletic field in eager anticipation of the parade. As the float passes, campers toss beads and candy to the delight and cheers of the waiting crowd.

The parade ends with the presentation of the court, a limbo contest, and a dance party.

Mardi Gras at Camp Glen Arden is a perfect example of the power and joy of tradition at camp. Whether a camper is attending her first Camp Glen Arden session or her tenth, whether she is the first in her family to attend or a third-generation Glen Arden girl, Mardi Gras is a celebration that will not be forgotten as the girls let the good times roll.