Mardi Gras masks and more
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent February 21, 2012 12:08PM
Marianne Deffenbaugh gives glue to Matthew Johnson, 7, (left) and Delaney Addison, 8, (right) as they add feathers to masks for a Mardi Gras children's program at the Griffith Branch Library in Griffith, Ind. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
For more information about programs at the Griffith Branch Library, call 838-2825.
Updated: March 23, 2012 8:09AM
The Rites of Spring are celebrated in many ways, and one of the first and most fun is Mardi Gras. The Griffith Branch of the Lake County Public Library recently offered youngsters a chance to learn about the tradition during a weekend activity.
“The Mardi Gras party ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent,” said youth librarian Marianne Deffenbaugh. “There are many things associated with this, such as parades, wearing masks and bead necklaces. Even the guys wear beads.”
A dozen area children participated in making free-string masks and working with the beads.
“I didn’t know what we were going to do when we got here. I don’t know very much about Mardi Gras,” said Hammond youngster Damian Davila, 10, as he chose a blue bead necklace to put around his neck and then gathered construction paper, jewels and feathers to fashion his mask. “But I came here for fun.”
Parent Shandra Addison of Hammond takes her children Caylin, 7, Delaney, 8, and Skylar, 9, to various area libraries since the Howard Branch of the Hammond Public Library closed last fall. The family has become very familiar with the Griffith library and its offerings.
“This (library) is close to home,” Addison added. “I saw the Mari Gras program listed online and although I didn’t know much about the celebration itself — other than it’s a New Orleans tradition — I thought the kids could find out exactly what they do at this time.”
After donning the beads and starting on their mask creations, the youngsters listened to a Mardi Gras story read by Deffenbaugh. Interspersed in the story of “The Green-Tail Mouse,” were tidbits of Mardi Gras traditions.
“The field mice that lived in Wilshire Woods learned about Mardi Gras from a well-traveled city mouse,” she said. “The mice wanted to have a Fat Tuesday celebration and learned what it took to prepare, like scheduling a parade, making confetti and other props needed and putting on their masks and dancing at midnight.”
Like his fellow participants, Jonathon Logan, 7, of Griffith also didn’t know what the New Orleans party was all about.
“But it was interesting to learn. I really enjoyed making the masks, they are pretty cool.”
Martha Whitehead of Hammond and her two children Gregory, 6, and Hanna, 8, were at the library to return books and saw the children leaving the craft room with their masks.
“I wish I would have known about this,” Whitehead said. “I like to teach my children about customs found elsewhere in the United States. And I usually learn a thing or two myself.”
She added that since many bookstores and branch libraries have closed, and her children’s school library is limited on the selection of books, local libraries are still vital in the community.
“During my childhood, this is how we learned about the world — the neighborhood library was our special reference,” she said. “I want that for my children too.”