I've been searching for a fun, family-friendly way to celebrate Mardi Gras here in Chicago. And, I have to admit that it's been a bit challenging to find something that fits the bill. So, you can imagine how happy I was to learn about the Global Explorers Kids Carnival celebration taking place in Chicago on Friday, February 15 from 6 to 9:30 p.m
The name "Mardi Gras" (or "Fat Tuesday" in French) also refers to the Carnival celebrations that often begin on or after Epiphany and culminate the day before Ash Wednesday. While the holiday and its traditions vary from city to city and country to country, Mardi Gras or Carnival is often celebrated by wearing masks and costumes and by eating pancakes, crepes or other fried breads and pastries made with sugar, butter and eggs.
Since the Global Explorers Kids celebration is happening a few days after Mardi Gras and right after Valentine's Day, it will be a global cultural celebration steeped in a lot of fun and love - with a healthy dose of kid-pleasing activities thrown in for good measure. Attendees of all ages are encouraged to wear a costume and/or mask and invited to bring your favorite valentines to the party too.
At the festive event, you can jive to the sounds of live music, enjoy food and drinks, and participate in a costume contest. Children and adults alike also can have their face painted, play games and try their hand at love-themed arts and crafts. For starters, you can make German gingerbread hearts which are traditionally tied with ribbons to be placed over the heads of your loved ones. Another craft will include making colorful Rakhi bracelets, which in India are often tied on a sibling's wrist. This is part of the Indian Rhaksha Bandhan holiday tradition, and is a symbol of a sibling's pledge to protect and love their own sibling.
Getting to Know More About Global Explorers Kids
In addition to being a great family-friendly celebration of this global holiday, the event also is a fundraiser for Global Explorers Kids. The nonprofit organization, which operates out of local schools and community organizations, aims to provide children with an opportunity to explore the different cultures from around the world through art. Its programs are taught by teachers who are artists and/or educators and represent a wide-range of cultures and ethnicities.
For a recent program Global Explorers Kids held at Marquette elementary school in Chicago's Ford City neighborhood, teachers conducted a unit on mask making and looked at how masks are used around the world. Next up is a storytelling unit, which will enable the children to explore the art of storytelling across the globe.
Global Explorers Kids also holds a summer camp at Lutheran Memorial Church, the site of the Carnival event. The camp, which is open to everyone, offers campers the opportunity to visit a different country each day as part of its passport program. During each "visit," campers pretend to board a flight, and once they arrive at the country, they play games, learn songs and do an art project that relates to the culture of the people who live there.
Global Explorers Kids also offers a great list of 30 ways to encourage cultural exploration at home. Some of my favorite ideas are #2 visit ethnic cultural centers and museums, #4 read folktales from around the world, #21 visit ethnic festivals and parades, #26 attend places and events that allow you to interact with diverse populations, and #27 learn to say "hello" in different languages. It's definitely worth printing out and keeping this great list close at hand - and let it guide your free days and/or weekends when you're interested in doing something new and different together with your family.
Additional Information on the Global Explorers Kids Carnival Event
Date and Time:
Friday, February 15 from 6 - 9:30 p.m.
Luther Memorial Church, 2500 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL
Tickets can be purchased in advance of the event for a suggested donation of $20 ($6 for children). You also can purchase tickets at the door for a suggested donation of $25 ($8 for children). Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-491-2723 for more details.
The carnival event offers a fun, festive time for all ages.
Do you plan to go to the Global Explorers Kids Carnival event? Do you know of other family-friendly Mardi Gras (or Carnival) events in the Chicago area? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.
Here's to raising world citizens!