Senior music major Steve Solkela performing with Zydeco-a-go-go -Staff Writer/Kalie VanDewater

Rowan After Hours hosted its “Mardi GRAH” celebration on Thursday night, Feb. 28, in the Student Center.

The railings around the Student Center pit were decorated with streamers and balloons in green, purple, black and yellow, with attendees receiving beaded necklaces in the same colors when they swiped into the event.

RAH has hosted Mardi Gras events in the past, the most recent of which was a Mardi Gras-themed men’s basketball game held in Esbjornson Gym.

William McMillan, a graduate coordinator for RAH, said that the event was held to share the Mardi Gras spirit from his home state of Louisiana with Rowan University students.

“I miss Mardi Gras and I’m really homesick, so I just wanted to bring Mardi Gras up here,” McMillan said.

The highlight of the night was a live performance by Zydeco-a-Go-Go, a Philly-based band that specializes in Creole and Cajun music, but also plays songs from blues and early rock and roll artists.

The five-person band, which used instruments like the saxophone, washboard, accordion and guitar, played songs such as “Bon Ton Roula,” Beau Jocque’s “Slide and Dip It” and “Smokestack Lightning,” as well as Mardi Gras anthems like “Mardi Gras Mambo.”

Many of the songs compelled audience members to get up and dance. Robin Purtell, a junior musical theatre and radio, television and film major, danced to many of the songs Zydeco-a-Go-Go played.

“I wasn’t afraid to embarrass myself because I actually had dance class today, so I was just doing the stuff we learned,” Purtell said.

For their last song, the members of Zydeco-a-Go-Go pulled up a familiar Rowan face, senior music major Steven Solkela, to join them in playing “Iko Iko.”

“It was exhilarating feeling the Mardi Gras vibes [as] a Nordic farm boy from Minnesota,” Solkela said of playing accordion onstage with the band. “I’ve never been to New Orleans; I’m sure I’ll go someday in my career.”

Besides the live entertainment, attendees could spend some time playing Cornhole with their friends and customizing their own masquerade masks with feathers and rhinestones.

Robin Purtell, a junior musical theatre and radio, television and film major holding up her handcrafted mask. -Staff Writer/Kalie VanDewater

The midnight food bar provided students with gumbo, white rice and French bread after the band played.

Despite the activities and entertainment provided, few people attended the event for RAH standards.

“I would’ve liked a better turnout, but it is what it is,” McMillan said.

“I appreciate these events because it gives [students] some structured bonding and an alternative to unsafe activities,” Purtell said.

Melanie Rajpal (senior writing arts and sociology major) and Danielle Cain (senior liberal studies major) in charge of the Mardi Gras food bar. -Staff Writer/Kalie VanDewater.

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