WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Alex Morais, a White Plains third grader, celebrated Mardi Gras for the first time Tuesday, surrounded by feathers, glitter, gems and beads at the library .
"I like it," Morais said while decorating masks with a dozen of his peers. "The masks are the best part."
The grade-schoolers learned about the holiday's roots in pre-Lent carnivals. The library provided candy and baked goods for the children, which was particularly appreciated by kids who planned to give up treats for Lent beginning Wednesday.
"When I was a kid, we didn't eat candy for 40 days during Lent, but today, on Mardi Gras, you really party all out. So we have cupcakes and treats," said Bonnie Grant, the children's librarian who organized the event. "Part of Mardi Gras is the mask because you sometimes feel comfortable doing things you wouldn't normally with it on."
Grant invited children to decorate purple, gold and green masks. She also pulled out a collection of Mardi Gras-related books to supplement her talk about how Cajun culture in the Gulf Coast that influenced America's pre-Lent traditions.
"We started doing Mardi Gras the year of the hurricane in solidarity with New Orleans. We had a sister library there that we sent masks to and traded books with," Grant said. "The kids just get creative with the masks. It's a cultural thing a lot of kids don't know about, so it's cool for them to learn about it."
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