Cajun food, music worth steep ticket price WEST COLUMBIA

NEIGHBORS

July 28, 1993|By LARRY STURGILL

You normally won't see a Merriweather event plugged in a "neighborhood" column, but sometimes something comes along that deserves a mention.

On Saturday, a little bit of New Orleans, and the famed Mardi Gras, is coming to Columbia in the form of Festival New Orleans. The event will be held from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Merriweather Post Pavilion and should be fun for the entire family.

If you have ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you know that there is more to it than the costumed parade on Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent.

In fact, the Mardi Gras parade is actually the climax of a two-week celebration filled with many other festivities, good music and an abundance of Cajun and Creole food.

Back in the mid-1960s, I spent time in Louisiana, 18 months to be exact, at an inhospitable place known as Fort Polk. It was the Army's jungle warfare training base and served as a launching pad for young men headed to Vietnam.

Other than not being among those shipped off to war, the only saving grace to the time spent at Fort Polk was the occasional weekend leave to New Orleans, and my only visit to Mardi Gras. I must admit, somewhat shamefully, that because of youthful exhilaration and overindulgence, I remember very little of my Mardi Gras experience.

Perhaps redemption is at hand, though. Festival New Orleans promises a Mardi Gras atmosphere. There will be seven hours of continuous music, crafts, workshops and authentic, down-home Louisiana cookin'.

I'm planning to go just for the food alone. I got hooked on Cajun cooking those many years ago, and have had few opportunities to delight in the "real thing" since. There's nothing on earth more delectable than Cajun crawfish, or some spicy jambalaya. And, for those with more celestial tastes, fresh catfish cooked Louisiana-style is heavenly.

Tickets for Festival New Orleans are available at all Ticketmaster locations, or can be purchased at the Merriweather Box Office.

The $20 ticket cost is a bit pricey, and doesn't include the cost of food and drink. However, there are 50 percent-off discount coupons floating around, and children under 12 get in free.

When everything is considered, Festival New Orleans should be a lot of fun, and a relatively inexpensive family outing.

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Video camcorders are to the '90s what the Polaroid camera was to the '60s. Both allow the instant capture of precious moments and preserve them for all to see. Of course, the big difference is the camcorder allows you to record what happened before and after that one moment, and the result is often hilarious.

Just ask Tom and Debbie McKee, of Hickory Ridge. A camcorder aimed at the couple's young son, Michael, during one of those precious moments, resulted in a $5,000 prize on America's Funniest Home Videos.

One-year-old Michael was captured reacting to the movements of a toy at the Early Learning Center in The Mall in Columbia. The results were very comical, and they decided to send the tape to the show.

The McKees are now eligible for the $100,000 grand prize offered by the popular TV show for the funniest home video of the year.

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And then there's this story from the file marked: "Why can't I be so lucky?"

Soon after school let out, 10-year-old Alec Frazer left his Hickory Ridge home to spend a few weeks with his grandparents in Conshohocken, Pa., just outside Philadelphia. When he came home two weeks later, he was possibly several thousand dollars richer.

It seems that while playing around in the storage attic of his grandparents' house, he stumbled upon a box of old baseball cards. Alec says his grandparents said they belonged to his father, David Frazer, and his Uncle Ted, his father's older brother.

"There are cards from 1954 to 1961, and a bunch of others from the late 1960s," says Alec, who is an avid baseball card collector. He estimates there are several hundred cards, most of them in excellent condition, including some Mickey Mantle cards he says are worth hundreds of dollars each.

Alec says he plans to have the cards appraised by an expert.

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With the start of school only a month away, high school athletes will soon shift their attention away from summer vacation to football and other fall sports.

In preparation, high school sports physicals will be given by the University of Maryland Division of Athletic Medicine at Wilde Lake High School on Wednesday, Aug 4. Wilde Lake athletes, both male and female, should report at 10 a.m. All necessary forms will be available at the school.

Dr. Ligia Peralto, the director of the Athletic Medicine Program at the University of Maryland, will conduct the physical examinations. The cost is $25.

Information: 328-6495.

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