Renowned for its wild parades, colorful beads, revelry and king cake, Mardi Gras is coming to Oxford this year, as several local organizations work together to host a Mardi Gras Ball. The event will be held at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13, at The Lyric, and tickets are $10.
Kevin Cozart, the operations coordinator at the University of Mississippi’s Sarah Isom Center, is also the advisor for the OUTGrads organization, who helped plan the event, along with OUTOxford and OUTLaw.
“In December, the Lyric contacted the Isom Center about the possibility of having an event,” Cozart said. “While the Center was interested, we felt it would be better to have these groups take on the event.”
All three organizations sent representatives to planning sessions to brainstorm ideas for the ball. “It’s been fun seeing their creative energies,” Cozart said.
OUTGrads Secretary Hooper Schultz was one of the representatives who joined forces with the other organizations to organize the Mardi Gras Ball.
“I would say working with OUTLaw and OUTOxford is a big treat for OUTGrads,” Schultz said. “We are big fans of connecting with others, and we want to build coalitions. What’s the point of staying in your own little bubble?”
The event will not be centered around the LBGTQ community, Schultz noted. It is an event for the entire community.
“It’s going to be loads of fun for everyone, no matter who they are,” he said. “We are just a group of active Oxonians looking for ways to create more fun Oxford-centered community events.”
Blake Summers, an Oxonian in his own right, was the event coordinator and promoter of Code Pink, Oxford’s gay nightlife scene. Now, he has taken over the OUTOxford organization.
“It’s been fun working with other groups,” Summers said. “You can definitely tell all of our different strengths.”
Summers brought the big ideas and creativity to the table. Working with the other groups allowed him to figure out how they were going to pull off the event.
“Since Code Pink started with no funding essentially, OUTLaw was able to step in with the logistics to gain the funds for the event,” Summers said. “The OUTGrads are just simply professionals.”
Wanting to make OUTOxford about more than just parties and drinks, all of the organizations emphasize that these events are open to everyone.
“We want to do more than just a nightlife scene,” Summers said. “We want to get our community together. There are some people who feel they are just too old to maybe go out to the nightlife scene or don’t fit in.”
Summers’ goal for OUTOxford is to promote wellness and community.
“It’s fun and relaxed, and it’s something that’s not too serious,” Summers said. “People who want to dress like a fool can act like a fool.”
Summers believes events like the Mardi Gras Ball will enhance the community’s diversity in terms of dress, costumes and expression of individuality. He said he hopes the Mardi Gras theme will help pull people from other communities and attract a range of demographics.
“I think it is an easier way for us to get immersion from different demographics that we are not getting right now,” Summers said.
Although the event will be a morphing of Code Pink and Mardi Gras, Summers said the event will reflect the LBGTQ culture.
“We’re still trying to incorporate drag because it is still part of our culture,” Summer said. “It is something that audiences like or haven’t been exposed to.”
Incorporating drag into the event will allow those who don’t drink or dance – or simply feel uncomfortable – a visual element to concentrate on, according to Summers.
Cozart, Summers and Schultz emphasized that the Mardi Gras Ball will be an opportunity for all communities to come together, including those that might be curious about what’s behind the green, purple and yellow curtains.
“Many of our past events have been sellouts, with people standing in line to get in,” Cozart stated. “I’m grateful for the tremendous support from the Oxford Police Department in keeping our events safe.”
Tickets are available online at https://www.thelyricoxford.com/ or at the door for $10 on Tuesday Feb. 13. Doors open at 8:00 pm.
By Talbert Toole, associate editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.