Students celebrate Mardi Gras with the help of CAB

Photo by Nikole Kost
CAB holds their Mardi Gras celebration in the Lawrence Hall ballroom on March 9 featuring authentic Brazilian food and dance.

Written By Dara Collins, Staff Writer

The heart of New Orleans and Brazil pumped through the walls of the Lawrence Hall ballroom last Thursday. Drums mimicked the sound of thunder as they created authentic Brazilian music, and the feet of dancers matched the quick rhythms.

The Campus Activities Board’s (CAB) Special Events Committee created the Festival of Floats to combine Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival celebrations and create a new event for students, according to Special Events Committee member and freshman sports, art and entertainment management student Samantha Perez.

The planning began March 8 in the ballroom as resident floors and student organizations crafted floats for the festival.

Garland, fringe, beads, paint, glitter and pompoms littered the floor and tables as students created floats in honor of the holiday and festival that would be judged the following night. CAB wanted the event to serve as a way to bond and a fun place to hang out, according to CAB’s Special Events Coordinator and sophomore business management student Kaitlyn Smith.

“This is a great floor activity because it gives an opportunity for residents to build and create with one another, thus, bringing them together,” resident educator Matthew Bauman said. “It’s very creative and has a lot of potential the more they improve on it.”

The following night, students were invited to indulge in a variety of Cajun food while enjoying a steel drum band and Samba dancers.

The floats were judged by CAB and Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership (SAIL) advisor Brad Kovalcik. The residents of Lawrence Hall’s tenth floor took home the gold. In this case, the gold was a pizza party.

Timbeleza, Pittsburgh’s only percussion Samba funk ensemble, performed Brazilian beats.

“We’re all a bunch of transient romantic dreamers,” Timbeleza member Sheryland Neal said. “There are a couple people in the band who are from Pittsburgh, but we’ve attracted people from all over the world who are just passing through. Ironically, no one in the band is Brazilian.”

The local music group shared their love of an uncommon type of music with the student body.

“It’s something about how [the music] grabs the short hairs on the back of my neck,” Neal said. “You’ve got to dance to this, you’ve got to move to this. We’ve had people who are hearing impaired request us to come and play because they can feel the music as it vibrates through the air.”

Although Perez considered the event a low turnout, the dancers continued on with their lively performance and invited the audience to take part in the dance.

“It was a lot different than what I expected,” freshman mass communications major Marissa Rose said. “I liked how we got to see a different culture. They captured the Carnival theme really well and made everyone have a good time getting the crowd involved.”

CAB said it will look to advertise the event more if repeated in the future.