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Mardi Gras revelry and on-mountain mayhem in Vermont

Did you know that Burlington has the largest Mardi Gras celebration in New England? Yes, snowy and oh so cool Burlington, Vt.!

We Vermonters are hardy folk, so we pile on the layers and stand in the cold to catch some of the thousands of beads, chocolates and Moonpies (those tasty little things) that are thrown at us. And we have a blast doing it.

Magic Hat brewery plans the event, now in its 13th year. Held on Saturday, February 23, the parade route starts on Main Street and heads north on Church Street before turning west onto Cherry Street. The crowd lines up before the 3 p.m. start to get optimal loot-grabbing spots. Families with kids seven and under can catch goodies in a little-people-only zone on Main Street.

A hot coffee or cocoa drink (or a dark Magic Hat beer, I suppose) always sits well after this frosty party. There are plenty of cafés and restaurants to choose from in and around Church Street in downtown Burlington.

On the slopes, Jay Peak ski resort even has some Mardi Gras-inspired events planned for the coming week as well. Let les bon temps roullez! Mais oui!

We go from revelry on Saturday to downhill mayhem on Sunday. The famous Stowe Derby on February 24 attracts thrill-seekers and serious athletes to one of the oldest combination downhill / cross-country skiing events in the nation. International competitors, amateurs and children alike race more than 10 miles from the top of Mount Mansfield to the village of Stowe. And here’s the catch: Competitors can only use one pair of skis.

The Stowe Derby started in 1945 as a personal challenge between two expert skiers—Austrian Sepp Ruschp, who was hired to come to the US to head the new ski school at Stowe, and Erling Strom, a famous mountaineer from Norway. The combination of downhill and cross-country skiing was, and still is, considered by many to be the ultimate test of a skier’s ability. Ruschp was the winner of the first Stowe Derby. Who will take the honors this year?

Here’s a look at other some other events at Vermont ski resorts this weekend, which is the start of a holiday week for many Vermont and New Hampshire children:

  • Sugarbush’s Castlerock Extreme Challenge/Saturday, Feb. 23
  • Jay Peak’s Big Air Competition/Saturday, Feb. 23
  • Stratton’s Presidential Palooza Rail Jam/Saturday, Feb. 23
  • Stowe’s Torchlight Parade and Fireworks/Saturday, Feb. 23
  • Killington’s Dead Presidents Rail Jam/Sunday, Feb. 24
  • Bromley’s Telemark Race and Festival/Feb. 24-25

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