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Mardi Gras, hot rods and clear skies expected Saturday

Surrounded on all sides by days of rain, weather forecasts are currently clear of rain Saturday, when people will have an opportunity to enjoy Downtown Jazzed Up.

“It’s shaping up to be a perfect day for our fourth annual Mardi Gras event,” Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Program Director Katie Nations said.

Downtown Jazzed Up, organized by the Chamber and the Brookhaven Tourism Council, will take place from 4 until 9 p.m. The second-line jazz parade will begin at 6 p.m. at West Cherokee and North Jackson streets. Brookhaven High School will bring the music, with a jazz band leading the group through the route.

Second line is a tradition in brass band parades in New Orleans. The “main line” or “first line” is the main section of the parade, and the second line is anyone who wants to join in as the parade passes by. Everyone is encouraged to join the parade.

“This is a walking parade,” Nations said. “We would encourage everyone to join in on the fun by decorating their bikes, golf carts and scooters, but nothing larger than a side-by-side.”

In addition to the parade and the usual Mardi Gras activities, the chamber has organized a brand new activity Saturday — a Cajun Cook-Off. Participants will compete in one of four categories — gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice and étouffée. Small samples will be provided to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, and a winner will be chosen in each category and overall by local “celebrity” judges.

Other entertainment — face painting, beignets and coffee from Brookhaven Law and inflatable jumpers for children from Jump & Jive — will be available for 4 until 6 p.m.

In another first, the Smith Brothers Collision Center and Truck Accessories will be hosting their first monthly Downtown Cruise Night Saturday.

“We’re doing a monthly Cruise In,” Chad Smith said. “It’s pretty much targeted to the car people and that culture of hot rods and muscle trucks.”

The event will take place on South Railroad Avenue, just south of the Mardi Gras parade from 4 until 7 p.m. Smith noted that it was a free event, and participants are not required to pre-register.

“I hope to see it grow over the year, and we can start getting more businesses to participate” Smith said. “If we’re able to grow it the way we want we might start raising money to give to a local charity during the year.”

Far from competing for attention, Nations said the two groups have been coordinating their efforts.

“We have been cross-promoting in hopes that their car enthusiasts will enjoy the Mardi Gras event ant vice versa,” she said.