If you found yourself peculiarly sober this week, well, we all did. For the first time since 1988, Mardi Gras came and went without a downtown parade. The always-inspired Community Shares Mardi Gras parade, usually held on the Saturday before Fat Tuesday, could draw thousands to Gay Street on a pretty day; the subsequent Gumbo Cookoff drew several hundred. But the board of the umbrella charity, which raises funds for 41 social-change organizations, called it off this year. "We finally had to decide, Is it really worth the amount of time we spend on it?" says the organization's development director, Angelina Carpenter. Despite the parade's obvious popularity, she says it was never much of a money maker; the main event was the following Tuesday's Gumbo Cookoff, a paid-admission banquet—which, truth be told, might have worked as well without the floats and masks and plastic beads.
Community Shares will try to fill the hole in our souls with an awards banquet called Circle of Change at the Foundry on Sat., April 13. They're now accepting nominations of people and organizations who have contributed to positive social changes in the Knoxville area; honorees in several categories will be recognized at the banquet. The MacDaddies will try to make it almost as festive as Mardi Gras.
"We hate to disappoint the public," Carpenter says, adding that she hopes she's not destined to be remembered as the one who killed Mardi Gras (colleagues agree it was a board decision). "We're sad about it, too."