Photo by Justin Criado
Northside celebrated Fat Tuesday Feb. 9 at the Allegheny Elks Lodge #339 with the culmination of Northside Mardi Gras Week.
By Neil Strebig
The music was loud, the food was abundant and carnival beads decorated every person from head to toe as Northside Mardi Gras Week came to a close Fat Tuesday, Feb. 9, at the Allegheny Elks Lodge #339 in Historic Deutschtown.
Dozens of business leaders, owners and even Mayor Bill Peduto came to help celebrate the end of the week-long event that culminated with the crowning of new Mardi Gras King, Rick Sebak of WQED.
“It is really happening here. It is multi-generational,” Mayor Peduto said of the city’s only week-long Mardi Gras celebration. “People care about the music, people are really embracing music. I give a lot of credit to the Northside Leadership Conference and Deutschtown Music Festival. I couldn’t think of another place to be.”
Local rock star Jack Hunt, better known as Johnny Angel, was a bit reluctant to hand over his title as Mardi Gras King, jesting that he carried his scepter with him everywhere he went.
“[It is] very sad, but it has been fun,” Hunt said. “This is where Pittsburgh started. There’s two sides to Pittsburgh: the Northside and the other side.”
As Hunt handed down his crown to Sebak the party officially began.
“I couldn’t be more honored,” Sebak said.
He joked not even Venice, Rio, Mobile, Alabama or New Orleans could “compare to celebrating here in Allegheny City.”
Northside’s Mardi Gras celebration was a Northside Leadership Conference (NSLC) event and funded by a Biz Buzz Grant as part of the Main Streets Program of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA). Throughout the week, 26 local businesses participated in the festivities by hosting events and offering Mardi Gras specials.
“It has been fantastic,” Cody Walters, NSLC Main Street Manager, said. “[Everyone involved] raved about how much business they got.”
Last year the NSLC hosted a Deutschtown Mardi Gras event on Fat Tuesday, which sold out and allowed for this year’s growth.
“Northside does know how to have fun, it is a natural fit,” Mark Fatla, Executive Director of the NSLC, said. “Live music, great food, great people – what’s not to like?”
In addition to the URA and NSLC the event was sponsored by WesBanco, Iron City Beer, Fireball Whiskey, Dr. McGillicuddy’s, Ziggy Sawdust Productions and Green Mountain Energy.