With the help of a few friends, Josh Fahrenholt and others will bring Mardi Gras to Kilgore starting February 2018.
After being welcomed to Kilgore when Hurricane Katrina descended upon New Orleans, Fahrenholt said, the city has wrapped its arms around him and his family – his brother Hunter and their mom, Kilgore AcroFlyers coach Ada Alexander.
“My mom said she was going to drive until she ran out of gas and where she ran out of gas was where she was going to stay. Coincidentally, she ran out of gas on Interstate 20 right outside of Kilgore, Texas, so here we are,” Fahrenholt told the crowd at Saturday’s announcement party at 2 Brothers Po-Boys, which he and his brother opened over the summer. “The city’s been really good to us, everybody… One of the things we wanted to do was find a way to give back and bring our culture – bring the New Orleans culture – to the city. Well obviously we started with the restaurant, and then we decided we were going to do Mardi Gras.”
Planning is in full force here for Mardi Gras 2018; the three-day event will begin Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, with the traditional Mardi Gras Ball. The ball will be a reservation-only ticketed catered dinner with guests encouraged to wear costumes. Fahrenholt’s hopes are for the event to take place at either the History and Arts Center – the old U.S. Post Office on S. Kilgore Street – or the National Guard Armory on Stone Road.
Along with dinner, a cash bar and live music, Fahrenholt said, the Royal Court – the citizen, business and ambassador of the year, he hopes – will be announced at the ball as well.
A Mardi Gras parade will follow on Saturday. The parade will travel along the route of the Christmas Parade for the most part, beginning at Christ the King Catholic Church and ending at First Baptist Church of Kilgore.
Fahrenholt’s goal is to include all local and area school organizations – drill teams, marching bands and twirlers – in the parade and bring people to downtown Kilgore. He said he also hopes to get East Texas native Neal McCoy to serve as grand marshal.
Following the parade, a portion of the downtown route along N. Kilgore Street will remain blocked off to allow for a festival including live music and vendors.
The final event of the weekend will be Feb. 25 with a thank-you tea for everyone who helped put the weekend together and also a check presentation to the weekend’s beneficiaries, Kilgore Soccer Association and Christ the King Catholic Church.
“It’s going to take a lot of time and effort and energy to get there, but I’m telling you, when it happens, it’s going to be a beautiful thing and hopefully it’ll go on for many years to come.”