Costumed revelers will take to the streets to kick off the local 2011 Mardi Gras festivities in the 10th Annual Venice Beach Mardi Gras Parade Saturday, March 5.

Local residents, musicians, artists and Mardi Gras enthusiasts will gather along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, tossing beads to spectators, to celebrate the spirit of New Orleans Mardi Gras. The theme of this year’s parade is “Cirque De La Mer,” or “Circus of the Sea.”

Hosted by The Krewe of Grand View, a group of musicians, artists, friends and residents from Venice, Mar Vista and Santa Monica, the event is self supporting and intended as an offering to the Venice Boardwalk and community to show appreciation for its support of artistic expression, a parade organizer said.

The parade is scheduled to begin at noon at Rose Avenue and Ocean Front Walk, and will proceed south to Windward Avenue and back. Music will be provided by the Critical Brass Band and The Mardi Gras Drum Tribe.

The festivities will be immediately followed by a Mardi Gras party from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at The Venice Bistro. The free show will feature live performances by The Gumbo Brothers (New Orleans funk) and Miss Jessica, and The Sugar Shack Attack (R&B/Soul).

Krewe of Grand View members said the annual Mardi Gras parade in Venice is a cultural arts community event that honors both the Venice Beach lifestyle and the tradition of parading in Venice Beach that started in the 1920s and 30s.

The celebration also honors the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans as well as the origin of Carnival that began in Venice, Italy hundreds of years ago as a celebration preceding the Catholic season of Lent, parade organizers note.

The parade will be held rain or shine. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

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