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How Burlington's Mardi Gras parade helps Vt. victims - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How Burlington's Mardi Gras parade helps Vt. victims

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Downtown Burlington will soon look a lot more like New Orleans.

"I think it is the most exciting event of the year," said Quinn Delahanty of Burlington.

This Saturday, Magic Hat's Mardi Gras celebration returns for 2013. For 18 years, the event has been drawing tens of thousands of revelers to the Queen City, with a parade, costume contest and music. Regulars say the day-long celebration is a fun way to think spring.

"People are kind of getting out after winter's first thaw, so there is a lot of energy on Church Street," said Dani Gleason of Magic Hat.

"It is a great way to break up the winter up here," said Peter Taylor of Essex Junction. "It's awesome, we're all skiing, snowboarding, enjoying the snow, but it gives us a chance to go outside partying, have a fun time."

If you're concerned you don't have fantastic Mardi Gras attire, don't worry about it. You'll be able to pick up everything from a great hat to some beads and the best part about it is that all the proceeds go toward HOPE Works.

"Our mission is to end sexual violence in Chittenden County," said Cathleen Wilson, the executive director of HOPE Works.

The festivities have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for HOPE Works. Wilson is hopeful this year's bash will bring in close to $25,000.

"We provide a 24-hour hotline for victims of sexual violence and their loved ones, we have an online chat line also for victims, we provide legal, medical advocacy as well as support groups and prevention education in the community," Wilson said.

A community that's ready to party for a good cause.

"Whenever we are having a big cause up here in general, you have a fun time, you celebrate, but you also think of other people, too," Taylor said.

The fun along Church Street kicks off at noon March 2.

Click here for more details on the Magic Hat Mardi Gras Parade.

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