March Forecast:  A Blizzard of Wizards

Join in and celebrate an extra-ordinary local tradition:

The 24th Annual Ojai Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball

“The Wizards of Odd”

The Ojai Mardi Gras Wake Up! Krewe will host the 24th annual Ojai Mardi Gras celebration on Saturday, March 1st, from 7:30 pm till 1:00 am, at the Ojai Art Center, 113 South Montgomery St. ($20 in advance, $25 at the door). The party continues on Sunday with a post-celebration, family friendly ‘Fais-Do-Do’ Zydeco Dance Party from Noon to 3:00 p.m. ($5 at the door, kids 12 and under are free). 

The magic of this year’s theme “The Wizards of Odd” invites your creative soul to dress-up and sashay out. The masquerade ball on Saturday includes a costume contest with special prizes, endless dancing and mind-blowing costumery. Burners and Labyrinth fans, step up your game at Ojai Mardi Gras.

The “Ojai Art Fools”, a loose, dedicated and playful collective of artists, sculptors, painters and hangers on, have spent the past months creating imaginative sets, and delightful decorations that will transform the Art Center into a magical, often hysterical, bountiful visual feast called “The Land of Odds.”

For pure dancing pleasure, the Ojai Mardi Gras Band features a unique mix of New Orleans, funk, second line, soul, rock and Cajun dance music, performed by an outstanding all-star line up. Jim Calire on Hammond B-3 Organ (Yes, the real deal), accordion and sax, at least. John Zeretsky, violins, theremin, percussion, and high spirits, Patricia Cardinali on guitar, vocals, percussion and leading the band with her saucy larger than life star power, George Friedenthal, of Raw Silk fame. will join in on keyboards with his funky R&B vocals that’s sure to get the dancers a prancing. Connie Early, from the band Aquarius, will be bringing her soulful vocals to add to this incredible lineup. She can do everyone from Janis to Aretha and back. Moving on we have Ron Seba on slide guitar, rhythm guitar, and gravelly vocals ala Dr. John, straight from the swamps of Louisiana.  Also putting down his guitar genius will be Don Cardinali, who can channel everyone from Santana to Wes Montgomery, in other words, one of our guitar gods. In the rhythm section we’ve got the smokin’ hot bass of Stan Taylor, with Dave Stuart on the drums and wild man Burton Lang on congas and percussion, as yet untamed. No one can sit still when this band puts it in gear.

Replenish your energy reserves with our scrumptious Cajun cuisine and partake of salubrious spirits at the no-host bar.  Don a simple mask or craft an extravagantly creative ensemble and participate in hilarious costume contest. 

A testament to the life-affirming power of artistic self-expression and the medicinal mojo of joyful community celebration, this annual Cajun Carnivale is also a living tribute to its founder, former Ojai resident, Lyle Mathews, an artist and healer who had grown up in New Orleans, was living with breast cancer when she conceived of this celebration as a way to stimulate healing energies within herself and the community at large. The festival is held every year in her honor and monies raised are used to benefit a local charity or a resident in need. 

Artists, musicians and dozens of volunteers have been preparing for this celebration under the direction of the Mardi Gras ‘Wake Up!’ Krewe, whose name is homage to Mathew’s proclamation that we all need to ‘wake up’ to life.   

Don’t miss this community celebration on Saturday, March 1st, and then be sure to come back Sunday, with the kids and grand parents, for more live music, Cajun food, Zydeco dancing, dance instruction and an opportunity to check out the original art on display in the Ojai Art Center Gallery, where dozens of pieces featuring “The Wizards of Odd” theme have been created. An Artist Reception will follow the dancing at 3:00pm.

Advance tickets are available online at www.ojaimardigras.com, or can be picked up in person at Studio Sauvageau, Ojai Creates, Ojai Coffee Roasting Company in Ojai, Cardinali Brothers Music in Meiners Oaks and Imagine on Main St. in downtown Ventura.

1 Comment

  • Ojai Mardi Gras is the epic fun-fund-raiser of the year. Created by our beloved, blessed. Saint Lyle Matthews, we carry on in the tradition of ancient celebration. masking, moving, and making a new world as we create it. I am honored to be one of the original revelers. 22 years and rising.

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