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20th annual Mardi Gras is Monday, March 7, at Hastings High School

Ready to party at the Mardi Gras are, left to right, Amber Richards, Buddy the Elf, Lauren Scott and Halley Anger. (Star Gazette photo by Jane Lightbourn)

It is food and fun for the entire community and it has become a tradition each year.

The 225 French students of Brian and Sue Drummond at Hastings High School will hold their 20th annual Mardi Gras from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, March 7 in the high school commons area, 200 General Sieben Drive. Usually held on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the event this year is on Monday due to township elections.

"Twenty years ago, a student in my French 3 class asked me if we could have a Mardi Gras party," said Brian Drummond. "I said, 'sure,' and we had a few games, some food, and some people came."

The seed was planted and returned the following year. It has continued to grow, but with the, same theme and goal, Drummond said.

"We always thought the party should be for all ages, for everyone," he said.

"The idea is that it is family-friendly," said Sue Drummond.

"This brings the community together," said French Honor Society president Amber Richards. "There are not a lot of activities which do that, but this is one and the little kids have fun."

"Our prizes haven't changed and most years we break even," said Brian Drummond.

It is the students who put the event together, under the Drummonds' supervision. Several other parents and head high school cook Diane Gergen also help out.

"This is a way to show the community how great these kids are to the community," said Drummond. "The kids are fantastic."

Each year some new games are added and several are placed on hold. They try to have as many authentic materials and supplies as possible from Louisiana and Mississippi, said Drummond. The brightly-colored beads and prizes are ordered from the two states.

Food offerings stress the French theme and include ham and cheese croissants, a variety of dessert crepes, fresh fruit with chocolate fondue, pizzas and chocolate mousse. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $12 with 12 food/beverage punches or $6 with six food/beverage punches.

Game tickets are three for $1. The fish pond, football, golf and archery contests, face painting, mask and magic wand making, flower hop, a jumping castle, balloon stomp, cupcake eating contest, and Plinko are some of the 30 games and crafts with a French twist.

Mardi Gras music will be played for everyone's listening pleasure. Mardi Gras beads, masks, hats and souvenirs direct from New Orleans can be purchased at a student-operated boutique.

Those attending are asked to bring non-perishable canned food items for the Hastings Family service food shelf.

Any proceeds from Mardi Gras go toward a fund for college scholarships, the trip to France fund, and classroom and extracurricular activities.

Again, Drummond encouraged people to come to the event.

"This is family fun and for everyone," he said.