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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Interfaith Committee Mardi Gras Lunch Brings New Orleans to Hamilton

Ale Lewis

As part of Interfaith Week at Colgate University, the Student Interfaith Committee hosted a Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 11, in the basement of the Colgate Memorial Chapel. Students and faculty enjoyed a New-Orleans inspired lunch, listened to festive music and made Mardi Gras masks.  

First-year Ashley Shanahan reflected on the good vibes of the Mardi Gras lunch. 

“Everyone was in high-spirits, talking with friends and eating delicious food,” Shanahan said. “I felt immersed in the carnival spirit.”

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Brian Stark also attended the celebration.

“There were so many great aspects to this event, from the food to the great company to the beads — which I made sure to wear into my jazz history class later that day,” Stark said. 

Also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras is a holiday rife with joy, indulgence and grand decorations. Mardi Gras, though it is also celebrated secularly, occurs the day before Lent and stems from Roman Catholic traditions

Sophomore Luke Lostumbo explained why he attended the event. 

“I was drawn to the event because I am a devout Catholic and active member of the Colgate Newman Community, and I’m certainly not one to turn down good Cajun food,” Lostumbo said. 

The Interfaith Committee brought a New-Orleans-esque Mardi Gras experience to the Colgate campus. They decorated the room in bright colors and floral tablecloths, provided materials to make masks and served authentic food, such as cajun primavera pasta and fried shrimp. The talented band at the event — consisting of a drummer, saxophonist and two guitarists — further contributed to the festive and lively atmosphere. 

Stark played in the band, along with Joe Ferlo, a teacher of guitar at Colgate, and spoke to his experience.

“Playing New Orleans music at an event for Fat Tuesday helped me to feel more connected to the roots of this music that I’ve come to love and study so much, especially the important role it played in community celebrations prior to a time traditionally devoted to fasting and self-denial,” Stark said. “This event required me to focus on rhythm, melody, timbre and other aspects that help cultivate a spirit of celebration. Joe Ferlo’s guitar style that bridges jazz with R&B was a perfect complement to this sound — this was our first time playing together and I felt that the combination worked very well, especially for an event like this.” 

Stark highlighted his favorite moment of the event, which was when his student, senior Mete Minbay, joined him on stage. 

“The most special part for me was when a student from my Jazz Theory and Improvisation class, Mete Minbay, jumped on stage to play a couple of songs with the band,” Stark said. “[Minbay] had such a natural feel that fit in so well with the group and I’m sure it was inspiring for many of the other students to see their colleague holding his own with a group of professionals.”

Lostumbo resonated with the jazz music. 

“As a jazz musician myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the songs they played,” Lustumbo said. “Professor Stark and Ferlo are both wonderful, and I’m always happy to hear our very own Deacon Shiner behind the drums.”

Senior Charlotte Lawson agreed and felt that the music turned the basement into a lively atmosphere.

I love jazz, and it added so much to the vibe,” Lawson said. “It was a great time!”

With delicious food and fun music, it seems that the Interfaith Committee perfectly captured the spirit of one of New Orleans’ most treasured holidays.

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