Even the dogs in Manitou Springs were dressed up for Mardi Gras on Saturday.
The streets and parks in town were packed with people for the Mumbo Jumbo Gumbo Cook-off and the 20th annual Carnivale Parade. Many came dressed in costumes of varying degrees of complexity. More simply wore layers of beads.
“You cannot be out here without beads,” said Matt Pieffer of Colorado Springs.
As Jaqueimo the jester, Pieffer has led the parade for the past several years.
“I love it,” he said. “I’m able to get out and have fun and bring laughter and smiles to everyone.”
For Troy Reichert and his wife Melinda of Colorado Springs, it was the first time they had checked out the event.
“This is a neat little town,” said Troy Reichert.
“With a big personality all its own,” finished Melinda Reichert.
Nick Barton was decked out in Mardi Gras colors, and marched in the parade with the Hash House Harriers. His 4-year-old son Gabriel, wearing a huge grinning dragon hat, said the best part was throwing the beads.
“We love Manitou,” Barton said.
Before the parade was 13 gumbo teams competed for the favor and tastebuds of judges and the crowd.
Tom Zimmerman of The Boudreux Boys has been cooking up gumbo for 11 years. The Centennial resident and his team members served up a gumbo with a new blend of seasonings in 2012, he said.
“We enjoy competing,” Zimmerman said.
Nearby, Cindy and Steve Maniscalco and company were making their third bid for the amateur title.
“It’s a challenge but everyone is in such a good mood,” said Cindy Maniscalco.
“There’s all kinds of gumbos,” she said, adding that they served Grandma Teriot’s gumbo recipe at the competition.
Pat Aggette and Onda Waller of Colorado Springs voted for “People’s Choice” of the gumbo offerings.
“It’s yummy,” said Waller.
Long before the gumbo competition wound down, families lined up along Manitou Avenue for the parade.
The whole celebration was a taste of home for Renita Patrick and her family. She and some relatives moved to Colorado Springs from Louisiana about six months ago when her husband got a job.
“It’s got a really fun atmosphere,” she said, adding that her three and a half-year-old triplets were having a blast, and even practiced how to catch beads.
The family had wanted to move to the mountains, and the weather was an improvement over Mardi Gras in Louisiana, said Ross Patrick.
The parade meandered down Manitou Avenue, with participants tossing candy and beads. Anyone can join the parade, and it stretched almost from the starting point in Memorial Park to Soda Springs Park.
“Carnivale in Manitou always draws a big crowd,” said Leslie Lewis, iManitou director. “We get such a great turnout from year to year we forget, but this is a great turnout.”
Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice