The cold and rain did not stop hundreds of students from gathering in front of Ware Commons Saturday afternoon for the eighth annual Krewe du Ware Mardi Gras celebration. The student-led event filled the southeast corner of campus with festive jazz music, Cajun food and lots of purple, green and gold beads.
Naisha Hasan, freshman and President of Ware Commons, helped plan Krewe du Ware for the first time.
“It is really important to me how this event goes,” Hasan said. “It’s nice to see all these people enjoy all the hard work that we put into the event and see everyone happy and smiling on this cold day.”
The event had tents for various activities and food stations including mask decorating, fortune telling, free T-shirt pickups, hot coffee and the classic cinnamon swirl King Cake. There was one large tent that housed the Cajun food line, a stage with jazz music, and rows of tables for people to enjoy the food and festivities.
Entertainment included an 8-and-a-half-foot tall stilt walker dressed as a jester who could run, jump and dance. The juggler, Julio Ramazini, performed for his third time at Krewe du Ware not only with juggling balls, but plates and knives, too.
“I love the venue,” Ramazini said. “It’s amazing what you guys are doing here bringing students and teachers together.”
What made this event stand out was the taste of Louisiana brought to SMU’s campus. The Cajun Crawfish Company catered the event and brought 750 pounds of crawfish and 1000 fresh beignets. Students stood in line for a generous portion of crawfish served with corn on the cob and a potato. They could also indulge in red beans and rice or chicken and sausage Jambalaya. Some event-goers tried crawfish for the time, while others rolled up their sleeves and started cracking the shells.
“We love doing it and love cooking crawfish,” said Samuel Whaley, Cajun Crawfish Company employee. “It’s fun every time we come out here.”
The Commons Council started planning for Krewe du Ware in October securing the date with vendors, ordering decorations, and finalizing student-created graphics for stickers and promotional signs.
Jamie Tanaka is a senior Residential Assistant at Ware and a former Commons Council member who has seen this event from different perspectives.
“I have been a part of planning for this event for the past four years, and it’s nice to see it progress over the years and see all of our community come together,” Tanaka said.
The Mardi Gras event would not be complete without a royalty presentation. Ware residents, Kaylee Beard and Joey Gray, were crowned king and queen for Krewe du Ware Royalty 2022. Beard and Gray walked the stage and received a basket of goodies.
“I’m really appreciative of it,” Beard said. “I’ve been in Ware for two years, so this is just a sign of all the love for the community and how much it means for us and everyone in Ware.”
Krewe du Ware put students in a festive Mardi Gras mood to start the holiday week. And until Tuesday, March 1, the vibe of Ware Commons revolves around the French saying, “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” or “Let the good times roll!”
*Jake Charnes and Jordyn Stallings contributed to this story.