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Festive Fat Tuesday tradition continues

The modern day masquerade ball continues at Tresetti’s World Café in Modesto for the 21st Annual Mardi Gras Party for 2015.

Being a huge fan of Mardi Gras, Tresetti's President and Owner Tammy Maisetti decided to bring the colorful carnival to the streets of downtown Modesto 20 years ago and it was so well received that it spilled out into the streets. This is where the idea for an annual Fat Tuesday celebration began and has continued over the years.

The popular cultural paradox is celebrated all over the globe and people can get a taste of the carnival from 6 p.m. to closing on Feb. 17. The party has grown each year and has expanded even more with a parade in traditional Mardi Gras style with a few multicolored floats, decorative masks as well as the highly desired beads. The addition of the parade began last year with only one float, a marching band and garishly dressed walking participants. The parade will be on the streets starting at 9:30 p.m. on Fat Tuesday. There will be various stages including a main stage with local artists performing rock and blues on three stages along with a house DJ after 10 p.m. to energize the crowd and get the dance party started.

The festivities will take place on 11th Street between I and J streets in Modesto, with live music, speed bars, beer trucks and much more.

The traditional celebration was at one time moved from Tuesday to Saturday since it was hard for people to get out on a Tuesday. This year it has been brought back to Tuesday.

Tickets are available for purchase in advance for $15 at Tresetti’s, TiKi, and other locations or at the door for $20. There are also VIP tickets available for $50 which includes a traditional Mardi Gras buffet at Tresetti’s of authentic New Orleans style cuisine including gumbo, jambalaya, red beans, rice, cornbread and bourbon bread pudding, just to name a few selections.

The celebration that is Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites. It is celebrated in many countries around the world on the day before the religious season of Lent begins. Brazil, Venice and New Orleans play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists every year.

Mardi Gras season is the prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the meat, eggs, milk and cheese that remained in their homes, preparing for several weeks of eating only fish and fasting. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”

“Mardi Gras is really about bringing Bourbon Street to Modesto,” said event promoter Andrew Thomlison.