Mardi Gras clashes with spring break

Students may have to travel to New Orleans this spring break if they want purple and gold beads to add to their Mardi Gras collection. Many students have said that they are upset with the date change of the annual Mardi Gras Parade that will now take place on the first weekend of spring break. “We’re not all going to be able to fly out to New Orleans to celebrate Mardis Gras,” sophomore Leslie Groundwater said. A lot of people cannot stay because they have to catch flights and the dorms are closed, Groundwater said. The Magic Hat Mardi Gras Parade brings the community and the surrounding universities together, she said. “It’s our town’s celebration that students and the community go to,” Groundwater said. “The parade is a different activity to get kids out.” Sophomore Taylor Acquaviva said he agrees that the parade is a big deal for UVM students and for the Burlington community. “I loved it last year, that’s why I am deciding to stay this year,” Acquaviva said. “It’s definitely going to be more quiet and people will probably lose money because of so many students not being here.” This year’s first years who have to go home are going to miss out on the cultural experience of the parade, he said. Some upperclassmen who have not seen the parade have said they feel like they are missing out. “I had no idea about [the parade],” transfer student Chris Costanza said. “It sounds like it would be fun.” While some students said they think the change was done on purpose, Marketing Manager of Magic Hat Brewing Company Stacey Steinmetz said it was just a scheduling change. Steinmetz said that Magic Hat wanted to have the parade before Fat Tuesday, and it did not occur to them that UVM students might be on spring break. With the majority of students going home, this year is going to be different, she said. “UVM students brought a lot of people down,” Steinmetz said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a little lighter this year.” Many people had to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to deal with the lack of student volunteers, she said. “In the past we have had great success with UVM [volunteers] and hadn’t really explored other options too deeply,” Steinmetz said. While many UVM students said they were planning their flights to Florida, Steinmentz said Magic Hat was looking elsewhere for volunteers. “St. Mike’s really came to the plate with 400 or so volunteers,” she said. When volunteers became maxed out, local businesses, clubs, sports teams and the community completely came through, she said. Fire Chief Seth Lasker said there were a number of reasons why the parade route was changed from Church Street to Main Street. “The size of the event, the number of people crowded on Church Street and merchants having trouble getting people in and out of stores made it hard for Mardi Gras staff to manage it safely,” Lasker said. The change was to make the whole experience more fun for people, he said. With last year’s parade bringing in around 25,000 viewers, the change in route will make for a smoother event that will accommodate more people, Steinmetz said.