A flurry of activity took place in downtown Winchester on Tuesday night as workers prepared attractions for the Winchester Community Cultural Preservation Committee’s 73rd Annual Mardi Gras. This year, Mardi Gras salutes our hometown heroes, be they first responders such as police officers and fire fighters, military or former military, or otherwise. We are honoring all those who make sacrifices for the good of others. For the safety of all, only card carrying service animals will be allowed on the midway.

In 1947, the Winchester Jaycees volunteered to revive the Mardi Gras Festival as a costume contest and parade. They added a pumpkin auction to benefit a Rheumatic Fever fund to aid area children stricken with the disease. The auction was so successful that it gained the attention of a reporter and photographer from the Chicago Daily Times, and the community was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for community service. Although the Jaycees were forced to fold in 1996, the W.C.C.P.C. has continued the tradition every year since.

The annual event features rides, food, games, live entertainment, contests, door prizes, a parade, and local vendor booths for people to enjoy. This year’s Mardi Gras features a midway by Poor Jack Amusements and began Wednesday evening with David Rees singing the National Anthem and a performance by Winchester Community High School’s “The Force.”

Tonight , the midway opens at 5:00 PM. At 6:30 on the main stage, Monroe Central’s Elementary Choir will present “Broadway Comes to Mardi Gras.” DJ ElectroBear will take the stage at 7:00 and the midway will close at 9:00 PM.

Tomorrow, the midway will open at 5:00 PM. Until Rust will provide entertainment on stage from 7:00 until 8:30 when door prizes will be awarded. Voting for the baby/toddler contest will end at 10:00 PM when the midway closes.

On Saturday, the midway will open at 11:00 AM with rides opening at 1:00 PM. Armbands for rides will be available from 1:00 until 5:00 PM. There will be a K-9 demonstration at the Courthouse at 1:00 PM. The winners of the baby/toddler contest will be announced on the stage at 2:00 PM. The Annual Mardi Gras Parade will begin at 5:00. The Sean Lamb Band, who put on an excellent performance at a free concert earlier this Summer at Goodrich Park will take the stage from 7:00 PM until 8:30 PM. The vendor booths will close at 9:00 and the midway will close at 10:00 bringing an end to another year’s Mardi Gras  festivities.