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Let the sun shine: Fat Friday returns

Locations: News Published

By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Carbondale folks learned something important during the first Fat Friday Mardi Gras parade in 2013. The late afternoon sun in early February funnels itself right down Main Street, shining a spotlight on everything it illuminates and casting long shadows in an almost magical way.
“It’s a well-lit parade,” Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Andrea Stewart told The Sopris Sun this week. “It makes for a nice backdrop.”
The Fat Friday parade is the centerpiece of this month’s First Friday celebration on Feb. 3. It rolls out from Second and Main streets at 5 p.m. and winds down at Weant Boulevard about a half-hour later. Stewart said that in the past, the parade started at 4:30 p.m., to make sure it ends before the sun goes down and temperatures drop. With the parade start time pushed back a half-hour to 5 p.m. this year, it should allow more people to get dressed up in their Mardi Gras finest and line the sidewalk to wave at friends on the floats and beg for beads and related trinkets. The later start time also allows businesses to show what they can do without cutting short the work day.
There really isn’t a theme to Carbondale’s Fat Friday Mardi Gras parades, other than Mardi Gras itself. The Carbondale Recreation Center is usually good for a flatbed truck or trailer with lots of fit floaters and workout equipment, demonstrating how you too can start whipping yourself into shape this winter.
In the past, an 18-inch traveling trophy was awarded to the parade winner, whose name was recorded on the coveted loving cup for posterity. Starting last year, though, the chamber downsized the trophy and winners get to keep it for display on desks, shelves and other high visibility locations. As for tips on winning the trophy, Stewart smiled and said “Go big … be creative.” Some parade insiders say to keep an eye out for the Marble Distilling Company’s float. 
Frosty Merriott, an actual Louisiana native who has maintained his gentlemanly drawl, is the parade judging panel’s constant participant. He judges every year and has a sound basis in scoring the floats, having seen his share of New Orleans Mardi Gras parades.
On Monday, Stewart said the chamber had not yet chosen the other two judges, and was not yet releasing the name of the parade marshal, nor given The Sun any hints. “It’s a secret … we’re going to spring it on them the day of the parade.”
Sal Lopez, of Glenwood Springs Insurance (with an office in Carbondale) will handle the announcing duties at Fourth and Main.
Although the parade is only in its fifth year, a little bit of lore has built up around it. Like last year, Stewart said, when the Roaring Fork Valley Co-Op was “strategically” placed in from of the Crystal River Spas float. The Crystal River Spa float broke down in front of the judging stand, “ … so the Co-Op towed it (to the end of the parade route).”
For businesses, groups and individuals who have not yet registered for the parade, they can do so at the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce website ( The entry fee is $25. Check in is at 4 p.m., lineup is at 4:30 p.m. and the procession starts at 5 p.m.
For more on the Fat Friday parade, email or call 963-1890.

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Around town after the Fat Friday parade
Things keep happening after the Fat Friday parade concludes at about 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, including:
Carbondale Arts hosts a series of short silent films in the open studio space at the Launchpad from 6 to 8 p.m. with musicians (which could include you!) to create the soundtrack/soundscape. It’s like a short series of live, informal and improvisational performances! RSVP by emailing or drop in on First Friday.
Carbondale Clay Center presents an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Colorado Mountain College in Aspen’s ceramics program. “Mutual Makers,” sponsored by Dr. Doug Dolginow, it opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. and stays on display in the Clay Center gallery through the month. The exhibit is presented in partnership between CMC Aspen and the Carbondale Clay Center (which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year) and is a celebration of the years of collaboration between the two facilities.
Crystal Glass Studio (on Weant) is open and hosts the last day of its Winter Magic sale.
Main Street Gallery at 399 Main presents an etching display, with Frank Norwood printing from copper plates created during his 40 year career. 
Marble Distillery (across from the Carbondale Clay Center at the east end of Main Street) hosts Pearl & Wood beginning at 8 p.m.
Susan’s Florals in the Dinkel Building leaps ahead on the calendar and showcases Valentine’s Day items.
Other Fat Friday gallery openings and such are reflected in this week’s Sopris Sun advertisement.

Published in The Sopris Sun on February 2, 2017. 

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