Catching beads in the Queen City - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Catching beads in the Queen City

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Every year, mobs of partiers swarm downtown Burlington, and it's all for a southern-style celebration.

Now in it's 19th year, the Mardi Gras Parade in downtown Burlington is about more than just the bands and beads - proceeds from float registration and the sale of beads, are donated to H.O.P.E Works, a nonprofit that aims to end violence towards women.

Marketplace representative Ron Redmond said, "We've raised a substantial amount of money. I hope, knock on wood, that we'll make our goal this year, 25 thousand dollars. We've got our fingers crossed."

And while the parade will go on, this is the last year HOPE Works will be joining in on the fun.

"What we'd like to do is look for a different kind of event or events that really match our new brand, the way that we're taking the organization. So it's been a great partnership, we're ready to move to the next thing and Vermont Food Bank is ready to step in, " said Redmond.

But for one local construction business, this is the first year in the parade, with many more to come.

"We've got the bull nose on the front, we got the horns on the top and the ears coming down and the bull nose and the ring in the front," said Casey Mathieu.

The first float ever to be pulled by a tractor.

"It's kind of something we all pieced together and it's worked really great," said Mathieu.

As some join the fun for the first time, HOPE Works says they hope everyone will take away more than just beads.

"What's great about Mardi Gras is it gives us an opportunity to talk about the issue in an environment where there can be a lot of drinking and to try to encourage some responsibility and public discussion about sexual violence," said Redmond.

And as the party continues, so does the mission to spread the word about doing it safely.

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