Mardi Gras mania

It is time for the party to begin! The Nuuanu Merchants will be presenting the fourth annual Nuuanu Mardi Gras Block Party from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Fat Tuesday on Nuuanu Avenue between Pauahi and King streets, promising one of the liveliest parties of the year.

Mardi Gras marks the final day before the Christian fast of Lent, a 40-day period of self-denial and abstinence from merrymaking, resulting in squeezing in 40 days' worth of fun into one evening. Planners want to capture the spirit of the holiday by filling two stages with live music by H20 & Aloha Brasil; offering palm readings and art displays of locally designed masks; staging a 9 p.m. Krewe Ball Costume Contest; and offering retail booths and New Orleans cuisine from Hank's Cafe Honolulu, Indigo Restaurant, Tea at 1024, Murphy's Bar & Grill, Kevin's Two Boots, Fort Street Bar & Grill and Paul & Terry's Place.

And don't forget the games! Be prepared for "Poker Run," in which players collect free cards from participating merchants. Any straight made qualifies you to spin the "Wheel of Fortune" to win prizes.

A percentage of proceeds from the event will be donated to the ARTS at Marks Garage Community Program of the Hawaii Alliance for Arts Education, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to perpetuate the arts.

A cast of dancers, singers and specialty acts salute the red, white and blue at the Mardi Gras Follies next Friday.

Parking will be available at Smith Street Garage (Smith and Pauahi streets), Alii Tower (Alakea Street between King and Hotel streets), Chinatown Gateway (Bethel between King and Hotel streets), Hale Pauahi (Beretania Street between Maunakea and River streets), Harbor Court (Bethel Street between Nimitz Highway and King Street), Kukui Plaza (Kukui Street between Fort Street and Nuuanu Avenue) and G-Marin Tower (Smith Street between Nimitz Highway and Merchant Street).

Other Mardi Gras events:


Dixie Grill: Get a taste of the Mardi Gras motherland, Louisiana, with Cajun and Creole specials such as chef David Saccomanno's Louisiana crayfish and shrimp etouffee, Dixie jambalaya and Mardi Gras Hurricanes in take-home glasses. At 404 Ward Ave. (596-8359) and Aiea (485-CRAB). Daily specials through Tuesday.


Family Mardi Gras: There are those who require tamer festivities, and the Universal Unitarian Church is hosting an event for those with kids who still like to get out. There'll be a 6 p.m. New Orleans dinner of gumbo, rice, cornbread, pecan cookies and more -- vegetarian dishes, too. There are also family games, a mask and costume contest, beads for everyone, music, dancing, a cash bar and tango dance exhibitions. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for ages 6 to 12. A family of four or more will get in for $30. Call 595-4047.

Na Aikane He'e Nalu O Hawai'i Mardi Gras Party: The country's only gay surf club returns to La Mariana Sailing Club, 50 Sand Island Access Road, for its second annual Mardi Gras Party, with D-Vinyl Entertainment transforming the club's garden area into a dance floor, while DJs Adrian and James Yao keep the crowd moving with their blend of lounge, trance and progressive house. From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cover is $10. The event is a benefit for Surfrider Foundation, dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches, and Gregory House Programs, a statewide AIDS housing agency. Call 783-2501 for more information, 848-2800 for directions.


Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Celebration: Ocean Club invites all to get wild, with sultry masked go-go dancers and free beads all night. Find the baby in the king cake for a year of good luck, and enjoy $2 cocktails all night. The event starts with happy-hour jazz from 4:30 p.m. and runs to 4 a.m. Cover is free before 8, $4 after. Must be 23 or older.

"Bands, Beads and BOB!": Oahu's wacky new radio station, 99.5 BOB FM, will be hosting the Fat Tuesday party at Kapono's, bringing the spirit of Bourbon Street to Kapono's at Aloha Tower Marketplace beginning at 5 p.m. The "Live Mega Music BOB-A-THON Jamboree" will feature music from Rizon, Jack the Dog, Shining Star and Tino & the Rhythm Klub, plus drink samples, contests, free beads and Mardi Gras revelry, with a live broadcast from the party airing from 7 p.m. till closing at 2 p.m. There'll be door prizes as well. Audience members will also be invited to participate in contests like the Best Boa Strut. Admission is $10; must be 21 and older. Anyone named Bob, Robert, Bobby, Roberta or Bobbi will get in free. Admission is also free before 7.

Meanwhile, Kapono's owner Henry Kapono will also be taking over 99.5 BOB FM's airwaves today through Tuesday when the radio station temporarily changes its name to 99.5 HENRY FM. Kapono will play music from his newest CD, as well as some of his favorite tunes from BOB's playlists.


Mardi Gras Follies: The Pearl Harbor-based cabaret revue will be saluting the red, white and blue with a cast of 50 dancers, singers and specialty acts, including military and civilian performers. There's also the requisite sparkle of rhinestones and glamour of feathered showgirl costumes. Dinner shows start with 6:30 p.m. meal time and 7:45 p.m. shows Fridays and Saturdays through March 27. Lunch shows begin at 12:30 p.m. March 7 and 21. Call 473-1703 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $35, $45 and $50 including meal.

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