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After Dark: Mardi Gras at the Michigan Science Center

After Dark: Mardi Gras at the Michigan Science Center

The Michigan Science Center brought the French Quarter to Detroit: Jazz, booze and, most importantly, people ready to party!

I’ve never been a huge Mardi Gras fan. Adding to that, I was recently in New Orleans and had my doubts that the MSC could do anything to come close to recreating that atmosphere. However, MSC brought in the three essential elements to bringing the French Quarter to Detroit: Jazz, booze and, most importantly, people ready to party! We arrived promptly at 6 pm (right when it started). There didn’t seem to be a lot of people, but this was early on a Thursday night. Within a few hours, the lower level of the MSC was packed.

The absolute coolest thing about this event was all these grownups walking around the MSC and interacting with all the displays. Now I’ve been to the MSC in the daytime before. I went with my two young cousins and it’s a lot of kids running around and playing while adults stand dutifully by. Now that there were no kids, the adults had a blast making their way through all the exhibits that were open. I was really happy to see a bunch of adults relishing in the science.

When we arrived, the first thing that set the stage for the Mardi Gras festivities was the fire dancer (from Sunshine Fire Entertainment) out front. She was moving around so fast that it was tough to get a picture that captured how cool she actually was. At one point she actually licked the fire and I still don’t know how that didn’t burn her tongue off. You go girl!

Once we went in we did a quick lap to take in the sights. There was a station for you to make your own Mardi Gras mask. Once again, it was great to see a bunch of adults gleefully playing with arts and crafts.

A show-stopping sight was the hula-hoop dancer. She was gorgeous, had a fairy-tastic flowing dress that spun with her, showing spectacular skill as she danced. By the end of the night, I had to profess my love for her. She was amazing!

There was a station giving away pieces of Mardi Gras King Cake. Find the small plastic baby baked in and you have to host the next party!

There was also a barbecue pork slider station.

The cash bar on site was serving a custom drink called a Hurricane. I was pretty disappointed that there was only one bar. I had recently attended the Vintage Video Game event at MSC and there were two bars on site. I would think that the Mardi Gras event, which would have more drinking, should have two bars also. The line for drinks was long the entire time we were there. The two bartenders did an amazing job as always!

One of the highlights was The Parade Company’s Big Head Corps. I’m so happy we have pictures because this is so hard to describe. They brought a giant frog head and bird head for guests to put on and get their pictures taken. As someone who got sucked into a trash bag last week (click here to see), I’m not afraid of enclosed spaces. But I did NOT want to stick my head in those things. But there was a line of people ready to be silly for some photographs and they were all smiles when the heads came off, so what do I know?

As the night went on, things became a bit more festive as face painting got underway. Women would walk around with beautiful and ethereal masks painted on their faces by Sandy’s Land Entertainment (And Sandy for sure wins the award for the best lipstick of the night!).

When we first arrived there was a jazz band playing (which was essential to setting the mood). About midway through, the Detroit Party Marching Band turned the entire MSC into a party with their bounding energy and pounding music. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was the most memorable part of the evening for sure.

Some honorable mentions are the sound station where you completed a circuit by touching different parts of Play-Doh. This would’ve been fun regardless, but the fact that two pieces of Play-Doh were boobs on a small mannequin just made the ten-year-old inside me giggle.

Also providing a few minutes of entertainment was the touch screen game that teaches you about the evolution of moths when pollution hit the major cities. Which sounds sad, but it’s fun when it turns into a video game, I swear.

We took a second look at the fire dancer outside since it was now night and one of the well-known laws of nature is that fire looks cooler at night. Not only was the fire dancer still looking great, but now there was a fire breather who was, ahem, breathtaking.

Overall, it was more fun than I expected! The worst part of the evening was the long lines for drinks. The best part of the evening was seeing all the adults playing with all the MSC toys. Best nonrelated part of the evening was the AMAZING escalator that Austin and I found while wandering around. The flashing, multicolored lights were so cool that we had to have an impromptu photo shoot. The next After Dark event at MSC is themed Space, so get ready to break orbit!

Article by Mallory Crowe. Photos by Austin Benedict.

The rest of the photos from the event are below!

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