Spring Break in the Black Hills

For spring break, many people head somewhere warm and maybe even tropical. However, there is something to be said for spring break in the mountains. The Black Hills of Western South Dakota offer plenty of fun at a price that will not break the spring break budget.

If you want to bring your skis or snowboard on spring break, you will be happy to know that you have two options. Terry Peak and Deer Mountain are both in close proximity to Deadwood in the Northern Hills to take advantage of the Black Hills powder. Both slopes offer trails of varying difficulty so that there is something for the novice or the expert.

If skiing and snowboarding are not your passion, Deer Mountain also offers the Zero Gravity Tube Park, where you can cruise down the mountain on an inflatable tube and be towed back up by the tube tow rope.

The nightlife in Deadwood has plenty to offer. Casinos line this historical western town’s Main Street. Seated at the base of Deadwood’s Main Street is one of the best hotel’s for spring break fun, Cadillac Jack’s. For those that like to gamble, the casino holds poker tournaments and slot tourneys galore. On Friday and Saturday nights, the ladies of Blush perform an aerialist show over the brand new Black Jack pit. Located adjacent to the casino is the Brown Rock Sports Café where they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The sports themed restaurant has eight 70’ high definition televisions so that you don’t miss a moment of the action during your favorite team’s game. This Deadwood casino also has a full service bar to mix your favorite cocktail, or pour a frosty cold beverage.

Cadillac Jack’s offers hotel amenities just steps off of the casino floor. These comfortable rooms have pillow top beds, high definition television, and high speed internet access. Adjoining rooms are available for those traveling in larger groups.

While you are in the area of Deadwood, there are sights to see within about a one hour drive. Mount Rushmore is located in Keystone, South Dakota which is located 50 miles south of Deadwood. Crazy Horse Memorial, a sculpture in progress, is located not too far from Mount Rushmore. The Black Hills even offers a variety of wineries and breweries to sample some local flavors.

So if you choose a mountain spring break over one on the beach, consider the Black Hills an ideal destination.

Mardi Gras in Deadwood – a New Orleans tradition extended

Mardi Gras conjures images in our minds of beads flying through the air, rowdy celebration, brightly colored parades and people, and happy faces. While this may be what the Mardi Gras of today is like, how did it begin?

The first Mardi Gras in North America did not occur under American rule but more accurately under French rule. In 1704, France’s King Louis XIV ordered the brothers Iberville and Bienville LeMoyne to sail from France to defend their territories, which include the areas that now include Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Upon arriving, the LeMoyne brothers found the mouth of a river known as the Mississippi River, and sailed upstream for a few miles until they located the perfect place to build a colony. This area was designated Point du Mardi Gras.

From these origins a culture of French ancestors known as the Creole population of the Bayous began, and each year thousands of people become honorary Creoles during Mardi Gras celebrations held throughout the United States.

Mardi Gras, which translates in French to “Fat Tuesday,” officially begins the day before Ash Wednesday. The day is also commonly referred to as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day and can occur anytime between February 3rd and March 9th, depending on when Easter is celebrated that particular year. Originally a one day event, as the popularity of the occasion has grown in some parts of the world, and so has the length of the celebration. The Mardi Gras in Deadwood festivities of 2013 will be February 8th and 9th.

One of those celebrations is the Rio de Janeiro Carnival that is held in Brazil, for two weeks prior to the fasting period in the Christian calendar known as Lent. Brazil’s Carnival is similar to the American celebration in many ways – lots of food, parades and festivity, it also incorporates much Samba dancing, giving the party a distinctive Brazilian flare.

Many other locations in the United States hold similar celebrations in the same time frame, including Deadwood, South Dakota. Outside of the States, other countries have also embraced this reason for festivity including Venice in Italy, Mazatlan in Mexico, and throughout many cities in Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Mardi Gras today is about people from all walks of life coming together to celebrate the things that make them different, but with the mutual understanding that everyone wants to be able to celebrate their individuality unified under the umbrella of “Mardi Gras.”

So no matter where you may find yourself this Mardi Gras season, turn up the Zydeco music, eat some jambalaya and take a few moments to celebrate your own unique qualities and how you fit into the big tapestry of life.