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People from near and father gather in Ellicottville each March for the annual Mardi Gras and Winter Carnival weekend festivities, highlighted by the parade that makes its way through the center of the village Saturday night.

By Kellen M. Quigley

Whether you’re in the mood for a fun night on the town or an action-packed day on the slopes, Mardi Gras and Winter Carnival weekend have you covered!

Parades, beads, music, contests and, of course, costumes are yours for the taking this weekend as Ellicottville’s biggest family-friendly party of the season returns. You might even think you’re in New Orleans instead of Western New York!

It all begins Friday, March 8 with several parties throughout the establishments in downtown Ellicottville along with live bands to get you in the Mardi Gras spirit. Stop by Madigan’s, Ellicottville Brewing Company, Villagio, the Gin Mill, Balloon’s and Finnerty’s Tap room for some great food, beverages and music. Don’t forget your Mardi Gras attire!

On Saturday, March 9, head to Holiday Valley for their fabulous Winter Carnival and many exciting activities for all to enjoy.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., stop by Yodeler for the Bar Hang Contest at the Snowbar.

At noon, check out the Snow Kayak race down Cindy’s, where experts maneuver kayaks down the ski slope.

From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Creekside will host family events that include face painting, a hot dog cookout, obstacle race, kiddie tubing and more.

At 12:30 p.m., check your speed with a radar gun marking your miles per hour down Foxfire.

At 3 p.m., don’t miss the Ski Patrol toboggan event at the lower end of Yodeler. Stick around in the Yodeler Lodge for the Mo Porter Band.

At 6 p.m., head to the village for the annual Mardi Gras parade — a spectacle not to be missed. But don’t worry, parents, the Ellicottville version is a family-friendly event. Make it even more fun by entering a float or come in your zaniest costume and walk in the parade. For more information call 699-5046.

The fun continues Sunday, March 10 with another full lineup of activities at the Valley.

The Costume Parade begins at noon, with line up at 11:45 a.m. Put some effort into those costumes — judging is at the bottom of the hill and the prizes are awesome!

Also at noon is the Lederhosen Ski Club hot dog cookout for Lounsbury and the Ellicottville Ski Club wine and cheese will be located near the clocktower by Holiday Valley Lodge.

At 2 p.m., head to Yodeler for the Dummy Downhill, which begins at 2:30. Participants send their homemade dummies down the hill. If you’re looking to enter a dummy of your own, here are the requirements: Dummies may not exceed 40 pounds in weight, 6 feet in height or 36 inches in width of stance. Dummies may not use any metal bracing or metal weights. Acceptable construction materials include wood, plastic, wire, tape, foam rubber, vinyl, cardboard or plastic tubing. Dummies should be mounted to skis or a snowboard and may not be living or breathing. Winners are determined by audience applause, so be creative! Awards for Best Design, Big Air and Best Crash.

At 3 p.m., there will be a Mercy Flight raffle drawing at the snowbar. Win a helicopter ride!

Both Saturday and Sunday bring other fun activities to the resort. Starting at 9 a.m. both days, grab a bite at the Ski Patrol Pancake Breakfast at the top of Champagne warming hut.

Grab a drink at the Snowbar—an actual bar constructed of snow at the base of Yodeler — and enjoy some lawn games at the base of Yodeler. Take part in the bar hang contest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fuel up at the Safety Patrol cookout at the base of Yodeler from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Yodeler Lodge will also host live music from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Finally, to round out the event, the Holiday Valley Ski Patrol will be holding their annual food drive for the Ellicottville Food Pantry. Donate at Tops Markets March 8 and 9, or bring your donation to the Mardi Gras Parade, when ski patrollers will be roaming the parade route to collect the donations.

Enjoy all the high-energy, non-stop laughter-filled weekend that is Mardi Gras and Winter Carnival!