The city held its fifth Mardi Gras, bringing hundreds to downtown El Centro to watch the parade and celebrate the street fair.
The event went very well despite the weather, said Orlando Johnson, commissioner on the city community service commission. The turnout was down from last year, likely because of the wind, but the large number of people who filled Main Street shows the support of the residents and the county as a whole.
The event has really established itself, and through the past five years people have started to become aware of it, he said.
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“Each year there’s new entries into the parade,” he said. “More people show up.”
The parade included a variety of entries, like schools, marching bands, law enforcement and floats. As the parade came to a close, those lining the street fell in behind the final float carrying the Mardi Gras king and queen, Mark McKane and Theresa Robertson. Residents in masks with brightly colored beads around their necks continued on, following the float through the street fair and beyond.
Many in the crowd were decked out for the occasion, including Nadia Blant, 17, of El Centro.
Nadia not only had a large bundle of beads around her neck — her brother and friend grabbed them for her as they’re taller — she also had jewels forming a mask around her eyes. She used double-sided tape to line the top half of her face with brightly colored gems to make a unique mask for the event.
“I really get into Mardi Gras,” she said. “It’s my favorite thing that we do here.”
She loves how culturally diverse Mardi Gras is and how theatrical it is, she said. She’s wanted to go to the big Mardi Gras event in Louisiana, and it’s nice to have something related here locally.
Usually Nadia goes to the street fair before or after the parade, and doesn’t watch the trucks and people marching through the streets, she said. This year, however, it was really good, better than years past.
Others had different opinions about what was the best part of the event.
The best part of the parade is getting the necklaces, said Brianne Soto, 11.
“You get to catch them and have them for yourself,” she said.
“And share them with others,” corrected Brianne’s sister Kayshawna, 9, who said the last few she had gotten she was handing out to others.
The Mardi Gras colors mean something, though Kayshawna wasn’t sure what that meaning was.
Brianne added that Mardi Gras, for her, means having fun, and she was having fun.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.