Mardi Gras celebrations will be touching down tomorrow, Friday, in Bixby Knolls alongside the usual monthly First Friday festivities.
Hosted by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association (BKBIA), the annual event will feature New Orleans-style music and a parade.
Crowned queen and queen — this year there is no king — are Mercedes Raffull and Jasmine Lymon, co-owners of The Pan, an American comfort food establishment at Long Beach Boulevard and 36th Street in Bixby Knolls.
The pair celebrated their grand opening in 2016 with two restaurants already established in Gardena. They will lead the parade down Atlantic Avenue alongside anyone interested in marching with them.
To join, people should meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Georgie's Place, 3850 Atlantic Ave. There is no cost or sign ups to march; just be there on time as the parade is set to step off promptly at 7 p.m. Costumes and colorful outfits are encouraged and all participants will receive beads to toss out to the crowds.
And it's still First Friday, meaning that the Expo Arts Center will be featuring an exhibit of artwork from area artists. For Black History Month, the featured exhibit is "Motherland: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."
The exhibit features African American cultural artifacts from the 1600s, including a history of fashion as well as artwork through the ages.
Before the parade gets started, at 4 p.m. at the Expo Arts Center, the African American Cultural Center Long Beach will recognize individuals for their service to people and projects in African American communities in Long Beach and surrounding areas.
At 7:30 p.m., after the parade has concluded, a film presentation of "Slavery by Another Name" will be available for guests with tickets. The cost to attend the film is $35 and is the only event that evening that requires a ticket. Refreshments will be served.
For more information, or to purchase tickets for "Motherland: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," go to eventbrite.com and search for "Motherland: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow — A Black History Month Event."
In addition to the Mardi Gras parade and the Expo Arts Center exhibit, shops and restaurants will be open late and offering a deal or two for the evening.
The Bixby Knolls Mardi Gras and First Friday celebration is happening from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, around the Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic. Ave.
Free parking is available at the Bixby Business Center at Atlantic Avenue and San Antonio Drive. For more information, visit firstfridayslongbeach.com/first-fridays-mardi-gras-4.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.