Lakewood primed for Mardi Gras

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Highlights include parade, magic show, softball tourney

The softball tournament is one of the centerpieces of Lakewood's annual Mardi Gras every July.

The 65th annual Lakewood Mardi Gras kicks off Friday, continuing a tradition that began in the summer of 1955.

The event, sponsored by the Lakewood Area Chamber of Commerce, has undergone many changes through the years, and this year will again see some changes, the most significant being that there will be no carnival on the grounds, but a full slate of events is scheduled.

Friday features include free Party House bounce houses for the kids starting at 5 p.m. For the third year in a row, the human foosball competition will be held at the event grounds, with organization at about 5 p.m. and the first game tentatively scheduled to start at 6 p.m. The bar and concessions will be open and entertainment on Friday night will be provided by the band “A-Town Unplugged” from 7-11 p.m.

The pace of events will pick up on Saturday with the annual Mardi Gras Softball Tournament slated to start at 8 a.m. With 16 teams already committed for the popular tournament, some games are being scheduled in Townsend on Saturday to be able to get all of the games in. Softball games will be ongoing throughout the weekend. Also on Saturday morning, the Fun Scramble Pickleball Tournament is set to begin at 9 a.m.

Saturday afternoon will be kids’ time. The bounce houses will again be available for kids beginning at about noon. The kids’ fish pond, sponsored by the Lions, will also open at approximately noon until about 4 p.m. The food stand will feature pulled pork and turkey legs starting at 1 p.m. Saturday; and the Parrot Heads Ice Cream stand will also open at 1 p.m. Other food stands will provide burgers, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, cotton candy, and desserts.

A new event has been added to the Saturday schedule: Arrangements have been made with Mischief and Magic to be on the grounds on Saturday afternoon to provide a balloon twister, a henna artist, a magic clinic and show. The balloon twister and henna artist will start at about 1 p.m., with the actual free magic show on stage at 2 p.m. Free stage shows were a mainstay during the early years of the Mardi Gras.

Music for the adults Saturday night will be provided by the popular band Stage Hogs from 7-11 p.m.

Sunday gets an early start as the softball tournament will continue with the first game scheduled at 8 a.m. However, the highlight of every Mardi Gras Sunday has been the noon parade down Main Street.

There is no cost to enter the parade; and businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate. Entries are asked to line up near the Lakewood Cemetery.

Following the parade, activities will start on the event grounds with the bounce houses, a meat raffle at approximately 1:30 p.m., and music provided by DJ Greg Tallier. The Mardi Gras will conclude with the championship game of the softball tournament on Sunday afternoon.