Feb. 24, 2014 By Christian Murray
The second annual Skillman Avenue Mardi Gras took place Saturday night and party goers were able to enjoy a break from the cold weather to get a taste of New Orleans—at least Sunnyside style.
The evening kicked off at Murphy’s Lobster Grill where attendees paid $5 to sign up for the event, which entitled them to $3 pints (on New Orleans beers) at the nine Skillman Avenue establishments that participated.
While many of Sunnyside’s veteran pub crawlers attended, there were many new faces in the crowd.
Two couples in their twenties were among the first to sign up for the event. They had just moved to 47th Street (btw. 43rd Ave and Skillman) from Manhattan last week. “We saw the signs in the restaurant windows and had to check it out,” said one of the men.
Meanwhile, a group of four women made the trip from Astoria after hearing about last year’s event. They, too, were early arrivals.
However, the party didn’t really begin until ‘Mardi Gras Mike’ arrived, who walked into Murphy’s in his bright gold pants, gold shoes, purple jacket & hat—with several balloons in hand.
Mardi Gras Mike (also known as Michael Kilpatrick who lives on 47th Street) has gone to Halloween and Mardi Gras parties for the past 15 years in similar outfits as he was wearing on Saturday.
The sign up period for the event began at 3:30 and ended at 5:00 pm. By the time it was done, about 250 people registered. Many were drinking at Murphy’s Lobster Grill, with some eating oysters and other shellfish.
At Murphy’s a three-piece jazz band arrived—consisting of trumpet, tuba and trombone players. The band, called the Elad Cohen Brass Band, spent most of the evening following Mardi Gras Mike and several masked revelers up and down Skillman Avenue in and out of the various bars.
The band began by going up Skillman into the Brogue, Copper Kettle and, then, Aubergine.
The band performed a set in each venue. Its version of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ led to sing-alongs at several venues.
At about 7:30 pm, Mardi Gras Mike led the band into Aubergine and some older sober patrons look quite stunned at to what they were seeing. Several people inside a Skillman Avenue laundry mat were quite puzzled when they saw Mardi Gras Mike and the musicians walk by.
The band marched on down to Flynn’s Garden Inn where a much more seasoned crowd awaited. There were Flynn’s traditional patrons at the bar, with the back section filled with a large number of party goers wearing beads. The place was packed.
At Claret, the bar was busy by about 8:00 pm, with many of the attendees drinking Hurricanes, a traditional New Orleans drink made with rum and fruit juice, while others were eating traditional New Orleans food such as spicy jambalaya and shrimp gumbo.
At the Dog & Duck, which brought on its own jazz band at 10 pm, the restaurant was selling duck gumbo and po boys.
Quaint too put on a New Orleans style spread.
Over the course of the evening, the event brought in more than 500 people, according to Justin Costello, an owner of Claret. He said “half the attendees register, while the others come out later in the evening and take advantage of all the fun then.”
The event was organized by the Skillman Project, a business association comprised of nine bars and restaurants stretching from 46th St. to 52nd Street, which was formed in 2012 and holds four major events per year.