Carrillo and Cruz Crowned Royalty at Calexico’s Mardi Gras Celebration

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Hildy Carrillo and Oscar Cruz were crowned King and Queen of the 18th Annual Calexico Mardi Gras Carnival held Friday night.

CALEXICO – Joining in with millions of people who celebrate the traditional Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) Carnival all over the world was the Calexico Chamber of Commerce who hosted the 18th Annual Mardi Gras event Friday evening at the Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center.

Wearing colorful attire, masks and beads, hundreds attended the event and had the opportunity to taste test dozens of types of beer and wine, enjoy delicious food and dance until their shoes came off.

“Mardi Gras is an annual event where everyone who attends has a fabulous time and looks forward to attending,” said Hildy Carrillo, executive director of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates nominated for queen and king of the evening included Carrillo, Alma Cota, Celeste Jimenez, Stella Jimenez, Oscar Cruz, Mario Conde and Nelson Baxley.

“I’m excited to be a participant this year. I have attended this event for years, and finally decided to run for king,” said Baxley, a candidate for king.

“Tonight I am running for queen and representing all of those fabulous women out there who are 60 years of age and older, and the plus-size women who look fabulous,” said Carrillo.

Attendees were given two tickets at the door to vote for their favorite candidate and also had the opportunity to purchase additional tickets if they chose to do so.

“This is the first time I’ve attended this event and I can already tell you that it is definitely not going to be my last,” said Erica Salas. “I am having such a good time with everyone here! I never expected this.”

The winners of the 2016 Mardi Gras coronation were Hildy Carrillo and Oscar Cruz. Cruz, a singing sensation, Latin Grammy Nominee and winner of La Voz Mexico, also entertained guests with his unique and talented voice.

“I am honored to be here and chosen to be king of the evening,” said Cruz. “Words cannot express my gratitude to this community for the outstanding hospitality you offer me each time I am here. I am eternally grateful.”

Former 2015 Mardi Gras King and Queen, City of El Centro Mayor Jason Jackson and girlfriend Sandra Rodriguez, crowned the new 2016 royal couple who will hold the titles for one year.

“It was an honor to be your King and represent the city of Calexico” said Jackson. “It is always nice to come here (Calexico) and spend time with all of you.”

Mardi Gras is an annual carnival celebration celebrated all over the world and by those living in the Southeast United States, centered in  New Orleans. The carnival season is a variation of the traditional manner of preparing for the start of the six weeks of Christian liturgical season of Lent and begins after Twelfth Night, or Epiphany (January 6). Traditionally, it is celebrated with parades, masquerade balls and king cake parties.

Celebrations are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Fat Tuesday, (Mardi Gras in French), also known as Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, when the season of Lent begins.

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