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Carnegie Carnival Season in Decatur

Carnegie Carnival Season in Decatur

Greetings from the Crescent City! Just kidding, we’re still the River City. But you’d never know it with the amount of Mardi Gras parties we have in Decatur to celebrate Carnegie Carnival!

I’m talking a two-mile stretch of parade route that is three people deep in the sparsest viewing area. I’m talking six weeks of nonstop partying to raise money for a good cause. I’m talking crazy family fun. Are you ready?

So what is Carnegie Carnival anyway? Carnegie Carnival is the marquee fundraiser for the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. There’s a kids’ parade, a dog parade, a half-marathon, a race for Royalty, all culminating in the biggest party Decatur hosts all year, the Carnegie Carnival parade. All proceeds (including those from Royal campaigns) benefit the Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur.

Decatur Carnegie Carnival Collage 1

Why should fundraising for our local art museum matter enough for an entire community to party hard for six whole weeks? “Art is for Every One” isn’t just a slogan here in Decatur. The Carnegie Visual Arts Center makes it a reality through programs that ensure art is accessible to all, hosting free workshops, events, and exhibitions for our city and the greater community, all while promoting creativity, family fun, and downtown revitalization. The Carnegie also gives back to our community in big ways, including sharing the proceeds with other community philanthropic partners such as CASA of North Alabama, Animal Friends Humane Society, the Decatur High School Developmental Program and many more.

A full schedule of events can be found HERE.

Dog Parade Carnegie carnival dog

Signature Family Friendly Carnival Events in Decatur

All on Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Carnival Frolic 13.1

7am to 11am
Starting and Ending at Church Street/Bank Street
Cost: $60 per runner
View Website to register
The River City is host to a fabulous running/biking trail and home to some of the nicest runners you’ll ever meet. Join us for our inaugural 13.1-mile race taking you through our acclaimed historic districts, along the Tennessee River, and through Point Mallard Park. Is a 5k more your speed? Grab some friends and run the relay option! All participants receive a cool collectible medal and cash (yes, cold hard cash) and prizes awarded to winners. Grab your running shoes and get moving!

Prince and Princess Parade

Benefitting CASA of North Alabama
Pre-Parade Party at 11am, Parade at 12:30pm
Parade starts at corner of Bank St. and Church St. and ends at Casa Grande Park
Cost: FREE
View Website 
Join CASA of North Alabama for a morning of free kids’ events and games, family entertainment, and art for everyone. Stay for a parade fit for a Prince and Princess. Watch local children and teens parade via foot, bike and float down historic Second Avenue. Want to be a part of the fun? Register your youngster today to walk or ride and support the good works of CASA in our community by giving a voice to neglected and abused children who need bold advocates.


Noon to 8pm
The Brick Deli, 112 East Moulton Street, Decatur
Cost: FREE (plus the cost of food/drinks)
Take a break from the day’s activities with good food and drink paired with live Mardi Gras music at The Brick. Suitable for the whole family during food service hours.

Carnival Canines on Parade

Benefitting Animal Friends Humane Society at 2pm
Downtown Decatur (Jones Park, Second Avenue)
Cost: FREE
View Website 
Dogs of all sizes and breeds, dressed in their Mardi Gras best will take to the streets of historic downtown for the most colorful pooch parade and dog walk you will ever witness. Register your furry friend to walk, or line the streets to cheer on your favorite four-legged celebri-dog. Local rescue organizations will also be on hand with more information for adopting one of the homeless pets looking for forever homes that will be walked in the parade by volunteers. Proceeds benefit Animal Friends Humane Society. Don’t forget to stay for a doggie crewe party after the parade.

Carnegie Carnival Parade

6:00 pm
Beginning at Gordon Drive/Second Avenue and Ending on Bank Street/Church Street
Cost: FREE
View Website 
Have you ever seen a full-size replica of a wooden pirate ship “sail” down the street of your hometown? I have, and it happens every year on Carnegie Carnival day. Join the pirates of Crewe o’ye Crooked Goat, the Sirens and Skeletons, Joe Cain’s Merry Widows, that wild and crazy Crewe of Chaos, the Majesties of Marmac, and the other-side-of-towners from the Southwest of the Border Crewe, plus many more for an unforgettable night of fabulous floats, music, dancing, and most importantly family fun! Grab your curbside real estate early because as I said before, people pack the sidewalks as many as a dozen deep in the prime spots. Crewe members are invite to a private party after the parade. Want to join in the fun? Register a crewe today by contacting the Carnegie.

That’s quite a day the Carnegie has planned for our community! Can you believe you survived? Wasn’t’ it fun?! But wait…

Catch and Release

Once Carnival season is done and the cleanup begins, what in the world do you do with all those beads? Keep supporting local community efforts through the Carnegie’s “Catch and Release” program. Bead recycling is highly encouraged! Simply drop off any unwanted beads at the Carnegie or participating local business, and the kids enrolled in the Decatur High Developmental Program will clean and repackage them to sell at next year’s Carnegie Carnival as a fundraiser for the Developmental Program. Bags of beads sell for approximately $5 for a bag of 100.

Southwest of Border Crewe 1 final

Leading Up to Carnival Season

[themify_hr color=”orange” width=”75%” border_width=”1px” ] But BEFORE Carnival Day, local adults are selected to campaign for Carnegie Carnival Queen and King and local high school students are selected to campaign for Prince and Princess. These candidates will host party after party after party during the Carnival Season to raise money for their bid for King/Queen/Prince/Princess (the Royal who raises the most money wins) and to further the mission of the Carnegie by making art accessible to everyone in the community through fun family-centric (and parents-only) events. All money raised stays right here in our community and you can pretty much find something to do any night of the week during Carnival Season, enjoying some family fun time or a date night on the town.

More about each candidate can be found HERE.

Now, how to survive the next two months of partying, fundraising and socializing in the River City happening BEFORE the big day? I’ve taken the guesswork out of the family-friendly King and Queen Fundraiser events below and have provided you with at least one way to support each candidate even with the kiddos in tow!

(Please note that at least one family friendly fundraiser for each King/Queen candidate has been posted and there’s no bias from this writer. I assure you I love each of the candidates equally and what they bring to my beloved hometown community.)

King/Queen Candidate Fundraising Events

Spirit Night at Chick-Fil-A
Cost: FREE (Plus the cost of food)
Tuesday, January 17th from 5pm to 8pm
Chick-Fil-A, 1809 Beltline Road SW, Decatur
Great for the whole family!
When’s the last time you dined on waffle fries with Royalty? If you’ve never had a meal with a King, this may be your chance! The kids can enjoy nuggets and ice cream, followed by a romp in the indoor play area, while parents can talk art and community service with future King hopeful, Dustin Bowman. Chick-Fil-A will be donating a percentage of all food sales to the Carnegie in honor of Dustin’s campaign.

Skeet Shoot
Saturday, January 21st beginning at 8am
444 Kenny Clay Road, Somerville
Cost: $75 per person (Advance registration required)
Great for parents and young teens who are aspiring marksmen (or women)
Enjoy a day of skeet shooting on the farm with a catered lunch from Whitt’s BBQ. Each team will shoot 100 targets plus warm-up targets, with three trophies up for grabs. Proceeds benefit Terri Rossi’s campaign for Queen. Contact Phil Mitchell or Tom Rossi to register or for more information.

Treasure Hunt Yard Sale
Saturday, February 4th beginning at 8am
The Magnolia Room, 216 East Moulton Street, Decatur
Cost; FREE, Plus the cost of any “treasures” you may find
Great for the whole family!
Who doesn’t love a good yard sale?! The Joe Cain’s Merry Widows crewe will host this “treasure hunt” in honor of Ginny Vinson, one of their crewe members running for Queen. Who knows what kind of priceless piece you will find? Clean out your trunk to haul away your (fabulous) junk, all while donating to a great cause! Proceeds benefit Ginny Vinson’s campaign for Queen.

Painting Party
Thursday, February 9th from 6-8 PM
Carnegie Visual Arts Center, 207 Church Street NE
Cost: $35 per person (Advance reservations required)
Great for parents and school-aged children who are aspiring artists!
Join King Candidate, Grant Thompson and River Clay presenting artist, Tiffany Brightwell as you learn to paint a Mardi Gras Masterpiece with acrylics on canvas. No matter what your skill level, you’ll leave with a Carnegie-worthy masterpiece to celebrate the Carnival season. Proceeds benefit Grant Thompson’s campaign for King.

Valentine Card Decorating Party
Saturday, February 11th
Time, Location, and Price: TBD
Great for the whole family!
Get inspired by Cupid at this fun art event for adults and kids to get creative, all in the name of love. Stay tuned to the Carnegie Carnival website for more details. Proceeds benefit Jeffrey Williams bid for King.

Creative Collage
Thursday February 16th at 6pm
Magnolia Room, 216 Moulton Street East
Cost: $35 per person (Advance reservations required)
Great for parents and school-aged children who are aspiring artists!
Create a collage of the State of Alabama with instructor Tammie Clark in this new twist on the sip and stroke art experience. Cash bar available for adults, 21 and up. Proceeds benefit Terri Rossi’s campaign for Queen.

Paint Night
Tuesday, February 24th from 6-8 PM
The Magnolia Room, 216 East Moulton Street
Cost: $30 per person (Cash bar for those 21 and up)
Great for adults and school-aged aspiring artists!
Paint the night away in honor of Queen candidate Christina Bridgeforth. You’re sure to leave with a Mardi Gras masterpiece! Proceeds benefit Christina Bridgeforth’s campaign for Queen.

There are many more opportunities to get your family out and about with the King and Queen candidates, including more dining options and some fun shopping events. Make sure to download the 2017 Carnegie Carnival calendar, and don’t forget to find and follow the candidates on social media.

Fundraising Events for Parents Only

Book your best babysitter and enjoy a date night at one of the many other King/Queen events and at least two Masquerade Balls to complete your Carnival Season experience. A quick rundown is listed below but make sure to consult this calendar for all the details.

  • January 19th – Casino Night
  • January 21st – Pirate Ball
  • January 26th – Silent Auction and Painting Auction/Raffle
  • January 28th – Let’s Raise a Glass (brewery event)
  • February 3rd – Martini Party and Silent Auction
  • February 4th – Cocktail Party at the Carnegie
  • February 4th – Mardi Gras at the Country Club (*childcare provided)
  • February 11th – Silent Auction Soiree at the Princess Theatre
  • February 11th – Crew de Voisins Bruyants 3rd Annual Mardi Gras Ball
  • February 19th – Wine and Food Pairing

Now that you’ve met all the candidates and a few of the crewes, get up close and personal with reigning King Wade Dinsmore and Queen Holly Losch at the Carnegie’s annual Gospel Brunch.

Gospel Brunch
Saturday, February 18th at 11:00 AM
The Magnolia Room, 216 Moulton Street East
Cost: $40 per person (Advance purchase required)
Great for the whole family!
Join the reigning King and Queen along with all the candidates at a Gospel Brunch, featuring live music that’s sure to move your soul in the funkiest of ways. With a New Orleans-themed menu, to say the food is pretty amazing is the understatement of the season. And don’t let the words “Gospel” and “Brunch” fool you – this ain’t your grandma’s breakfast! My three-year old had a blast last year tearing up the midday dance floor with his favorite local Carnival “celebrities” and you will enjoy it just as much!

I can’t wait to see you all in the River City during Carnival Season and most especially on Saturday, February 25th for the Carnegie Carnival events. As they say in the Crescent City, “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” or “Let the good times roll!”

Photo credit: Carnegie Visual Arts Center

Carnegie Carnival Decatur Pinterest


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