Lakeside Elementary School fourth graders reveled in a Louisiana tradition Tuesday.

Lakeside Elementary School fourth graders reveled in a Louisiana tradition Tuesday.

The 60 students in the classes of Babs Tims, Matt Burford and Haley Bugni celebrated the New Orleans festival of Mardi Gras following the completion of their cultural study of the southeastern United States.

According to the city’s official Mardi Gras website, New Orleans Mardi Gras began in 1837 with the first street parade. The first day of the Carnival season is always Jan. 6 — twelve days after Christmas. That is called the “Twelfth Night” and marks the beginning of the private masked balls that are held until Mardi Gras Day. The Mardi Gras parades consist of floats holding the krewe members, who throw doubloons, beads and other items to the crowd lining the streets. Many parade-goers either wear costumes or purple, green and gold clothing when attending the parades, and scream “Throw me somethin' Mister!” to the krewe members on the floats. Mardi Gras Day (which is always Fat Tuesday) is the last day of the Carnival season.

Decked out in beads and homemade masks, the students paraded around the school showing off their festive costumes. Following tradition, they ate cupcakes to determine the parade king and queen for each class — whoever bit into the small baked-in toy baby in their cupcake was crowned royalty.

The parade was rowdy, with students and teachers handing out beads to students as they passed through their classrooms. One student carried a boom box blaring funk music. The students earned their coins and beads by performing well in the classroom.

Tims said she has held the celebration for at least 10 years. She hosts similar classroom festivals for other cultural celebrations as well, such as International Talk Like A Pirate Day and Black History Month. Getting her students actively involved in their lessons helps them retain the knowledge better, she said.

“When they do something it becomes much more imprinted in their memory,” Tims said. “I have students who come back here and remember all of these lessons.”

The students enjoy the interaction, too. Shaine Hutchinson, 11, who was the king of the parade, said he thought it was cool that the official colors of the celebration have specific meanings — purple means justice, gold represents power and green equals faith.

“It’s also a time when you stuff yourself full of food,” he said.

Nine-year-old Sophie Chiappetti, from Bugni’s class, said she likes the beads best.

“I like wearing them because they’re so colorful,” Chiappetti said.