DOWNTOWN : Olvera Street Plaza to Hold Mardi Gras

A procession, dancing and the symbolic burning of bad thoughts make up the annual Mardi Gras celebration at Olvera Street Plaza beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The celebration takes place on "Fat Tuesday," so named because it occurs on the last day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent, a time of fasting and penitence before Easter.

Sambala, a Brazilian band, will provide music, and a procession of costumed celebrants, some of them riding small floats, starts at 7:15 p.m.

The celebration is a trimmed-down version of larger and longer-lasting events in New Orleans and Brazil.

Andres Topacio, a commissioner with El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, will serve as king for the night. A queen will be named during the celebration.

After the procession, a devil-faced pinata and the written bad thoughts of participants will be burned at the plaza in a ceremony known as the burning of the mal humor , said Alyce Madrid, another merchant.

"After that, it's just like a big party," Madrid said.

Information: (213) 628-7833.

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