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Bourbon Street meets Divine Redeemer in Ford City

Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Divine Redeemer school fifth-grade student Jake Karns showsoff the prize he found inside a King cake during a Mardi Gras celebration on Fat Tuesday at the Ford City events at the Catholic School.

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By Jeffrey Savitskie
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Fat Tuesday was more than a party in The Divine Redeemer School in Ford City — but it was a party, too.

“You know what? We had such a ball,” Principal Nicalena Carlesi said. “It is so much work for the teachers, but they sit back and see how much fun everyone is having and they say, ‘It's all worth it.' ”

The party atmosphere for students in kindergarten through sixth grade was a backdrop for learning about the ties between the Mardi Gras celebration and the Catholic religion.

The school's daylong celebration had most of the trimmings you'd find on Bourbon Street in New Orleans: homemade jambalaya, king cake, colorful masks and the green, purple and gold beads traditionally thrown to revelers at Mardi Gras parades.

“Yes, we even had the beads ... though we gave them out in a more conventional way than they do in New Orleans,” Carlesi said.

The school's party is “good for the kids because they see things on television and don't know how it connects to their religion,” Carlesi said. “It's fun, but it's also a history lesson for them.

‘The older children are those who really get the history, but the young ones learn, too. We just don't go into it as deep with them.”

Tuesday was unique for the younger students, who normally are taught in classrooms on the school's first floor, Carlesi said.

“They get to go upstairs with the older children. That's a big deal.”

Jeffrey Savitskie is the Leader Times editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-487-7208, or

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