Mardi Gras magic and Moon Pies at the city library

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 6, 2006

The weather outside might have been dreary, damp and downright frightful, but the atmosphere inside the Greenville-Butler County Public Library was quite delightful last Saturday.

The colorful stars and harlequin masks that met folks at the front door signaled the celebration to come.

It was Super Saturday, Mardi Gras-style, and Mademoiselle Jeanne, better known as &#8220Miss” Jean Bauer, children's librarian, was decked out in her Mardi Gras regalia complete with plenty of beads in honor of the occasion.

More than a dozen first, second and third graders – Zack Grider, Jessica Fuller, Ann Grace Hartman, Mary Glenn Fuller, Lindsey and Lauren Gibson, Anna Wright, Candler Lowe, Joshua Jacks, Jena and Julie Bae, Amelia Grider and Robbie Owens – enjoyed stories, music, crafts and even an indoor parade of their own, all centered around Carnival season.

&#8220What are the colors of Mardi Gras?” Miss Jean queried, the answer, of course, being purple, green and gold, the colors used to decorate the children's room.

Miss Jean explained how Carnival time meant a festive time of balls, parties and parades, ending on Mardi Gras, French for &#8220Fat Tuesday.”

&#8220Next Tuesday is Mardi Gras, the end of the season. Lent begins on Wednesday and lasts until Easter…people often give up something they really like during Lent. What sorts of things could you give up?” Miss Jean asked. (Chocolate and games were popular answers.)

The librarian read the story of Gaston the alligator and his experiences at Mardi Gras, complete with a &#8220Cay-shun” accent that greatly tickled twins Lindsey and Lauren Gibson and their friend, Mary Glenn Fuller.

&#8220No, no, don't quit,” the girls cried out when Miss Jean switched back to her normal voice.

The children learned how Mardi Gras &#8220krewes” were special groups of Mardi Gras supporters, some of whom put on both balls and parades, while others simply donned costumes and masks and climbed aboard colorful floats to toss trinkets to the parade-goers.

&#8220Oh, look at the Zulus! They toss out coconuts – wouldn't that be a fun throw?” Miss Jean enthused as she showed the children the book's illustrations.

The children also learned how months were spent building the big Mardi Gras floats from things like paper, plastic and chicken wire.

Of course, Super Saturday is always a hands-on experience, and the youngsters soon got to work on decorating their own Mardi Gras masks with sparkling sequins while listening to a little jazz (mask-making was much more popular among this set, it seemed).

Miss Jean also had a Mardi Gras king or queen's crown ready to size down to fit each of the youngsters.

Of course, no Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a parade. With all the rain falling outside, the children lined up and headed through the stacks and tables at the library, looking for patrons to state that all-important Mardi Gras command: &#8220Throw me something, mister!”

Several folks good-naturedly played along and were rewarded with colorful beads and doubloons gently tossed by the Mardi Gras revelers.

Once they headed back to the children's room, the tables were turned and the youngsters became the parade-goers, calling for Miss Jean to throw them something from her &#8220float.” The head reveler complied, tossing the eager children plenty of beads, bracelets, doubloons, cups, and that trademark Mardi Gras snack – Moon Pies.

As the morning wound down, Anne Grace Hartman looked the very picture of the Mardi Gras reveler in her own Mardi Gras t-shirt, decked out in layers of beads, wearing her sparkling new mask and snacking on a Moon Pie.

&#8220Next month, we'll have Super Saturday on March 18. Right before that comes March 17…and what do we celebrate on that day?” Miss Jean asked as the kids drank fruit punch and munched on their snacks.

With a hint about &#8220green” thrown in, Zack Grider soon responded, &#8220Saint Patrick's Day!”

And there's more fun on the horizon for area youngsters. The summer reading program at the library will be &#8220Once Upon a Time…” The theme comes complete with &#8220castles, dragons, knights and plenty of fun and excitement,” Miss Jean said.

&#8220We already have the castle on order,” the children's librarian said with a smile. For more information about the monthly Super Saturday event and the annual Summer Reading Program, contact the Greenville-Butler County Public Library at 382-3216.