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Fat Tuesday with a Latin flavor Bringing the New Orleans tradition to UTRGV

“Sambeando,” a Latin jazz tune, filled the Student Union’s El Comedor last Tuesday in Brownsville as part of the Mardi Gras celebration, sponsored by the Student Union and Student Government Association.

“We do a lot of Latin pieces because the kids love it and the community loves it,” Bands Director Albert Lo said.

More than a hundred students gathered around activity tables outside El Comedor. Attendees were treated to free doughnuts decorated with festive Mardi Gras colors, plus a photo booth and live music.

Isaac Garcia, a senior engineering major and office aide for the Student Union, operated a table full of feathers and paint for students to decorate masks.

“We teamed up with SGA to bring this event to Brownsville,” Garcia said.

“SGA brought the photo booth inside El Comedor and we got the UTRGV Jazz Ensemble to perform.”

Members of the SGA handed out gold-beaded necklaces and purple-frosted Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

“The SGA did partner up with the Student Union to provide the same kind of fun for both campuses,” said Judith Mireles, chief of staff for the Student Government Association. “The students are responding really well to the event. We sent out emails, posted fliers and spread the word through social media.”

Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, came to North America from Paris, where it had been celebrated since the Middle
Ages, according to neworleansonline.com. Mardi Gras was created as a period of celebration that would serve as a prelude to the season of Lent.

Student Union Director Edna Zambrano said she was excited to bring the Mardi Gras event to the Brownsville campus.

“This is technically the first big event we’ve had in El Comedor since it was closed last semester,” Zambrano said.

She addressed the importance of having UTRGV students from the music department perform live at events around campus.

“The Student Union has always worked closely with the music department,” she said. “Our hope is to work together when one of us is having an event.”

Inside El Comedor, the UTRGV Jazz Ensemble performed while students posed for pictures at the photo booth.

Priscilla Hinojosa, owner of Photo Booth of South Texas II, started handing out props and vibrant costumes to students as they posed for the photographer.

“The university asked us to come out for Fat Tuesday, so we’re here having fun with the students, and having fun with them,” Hinojosa said. “The jazz band is really nice. It makes me want to go to New Orleans.”

For a little under an hour, the UTRGV Jazz Ensemble, under Lo’s direction, performed several songs, including “Samba Facil” and “Elvin’s Mambo.”

“We are part of the music program and these kids are all enrolled as a class. So, this is part of their music education,” he said. “We have a lot of talent here at UTRGV.”

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