02-16-11-mardi-gras.gif4th Friday is right around the corner, and as usual the Arts Council Fayetteville/Cumberland County and the local downtown merchants have an evening of food, fun and entertainment planned.

Starting this month, 4th Friday will be a themed event. The new format kicks off with a Mardi Gras theme, as the Downtown Alliance joins in sponsoring the art and entertainment that the community anticipates the 4th Friday of each month.

“For 2011 we’ve decided to do different themes or activities for 4th Friday,” said Sherry Collins, 4th Friday coordinator for the Downtown Alliance. “One month is a street dance, other months will have a theme. We have a variety of fun and exciting things planned.”

With kids in mind, and keeping things family friendly, there will be a children’s wagon and stroller parade.

“We are inviting people to decorate a wagon or stroller and dress up their children and come out to be part of a parade that will start at Person and Green Streets right near Fascinate-U and travel through the Bow Street commons and back to the corner,” said Collins. “We are trying to enlist a couple of musicians to lead the parade with jazz, too.”

All of the children will get a prize and there will also be special prizes for different categories, like the best stroller or wagon and best costume. No need to pre-register, just show up that day and sign up. Registration is at 6:30 p.m., and the parade will start around 7-7:15 p.m.

After the parade, parents can take their little ones to So Chic Bebe where they can make their own Mardi Gras masks.

Horne’s Deli is carrying on a favorite Mardi Gras tradition, the sharing of a King Cake with 4th Friday attendees.

“That is something that is a big part of any Mardi Gras celebration,” said Collins. “They bake a cake and put a plastic baby trinket in the cake and whoever gets the slice with the baby in it wins a prize. This is a must if you are having a Mardi Gras celebration.”

Grown ups won’t be left in the cold, as there will be a Spirit of Mardi Gras adult costume contest sponsored by Miller Mott College. Just stop by their tent on Hay Street and register for the contest.

“We are trying to keep it to Mardi Gras costumes more than Halloween-type things,” said Collins. “Jesters and jokers and beads and boas would be appropriate.”

Winners will be announced at 9 p.m. and the Mardi Gras king and queen will each receive a Visa gift card.

Hay Street United Methodist Church is hosting the 4th Annual Bread and Bowls fundraiser. Stop by and have a steaming hot bowl of Brunswick Stew served in a handmade pottery bowl (that you get to keep) for $15 or enjoy your stew in a bread bowl for just $7. There will also be a silent auction along with entertainment by local musicians.

After a bite to eat, stop by the All American Fencing Academy at 207 B Donaldson St. Watch a few demonstrations by the fencing team, perhaps have a chat with the team members, handle some of the equipment, find out more about the sport and check out their collection of fencing-related art.

Headquarters Library is hosting author Kimberly Johnson — Destination Imagination for an interactive storytelling session. She will share stories from her books as well as pieces from other authors. Johnson received the 2005 Paul Harris Fellow Award presented by Rotary International for her work in literacy and has published 11 children’s books.

After Destination Imagination, there will be a question and answer session for audience members who have thought about writing a book of their own. Topics will include, but are not limited to, the pros and cons of self publisher versus using traditional publishers.

Arts Alive! on Maxwell Street kicks off at 6 p.m. and runs through 10 p.m. Stop by and see artists educating, creating and performing. At 7 p.m. 4th Friday comes alive as Hay Street and the rest of downtown fills up with exhibits, artists and folks who have come to have a good time.

Photo: This 4th Friday enjoy the Mardi Gras themed events that will begoing on downtown.

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