The Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Salida held a festive pancake and jambalaya dinner to celebrate Mardi Gras Tuesday. Salida High School’s jazz band and the Wail’in Hennies played music that got people up on their feet while around 20 volunteers prepared and served the dinner.

“The idea is on the Tuesday before Lent, party like crazy,” said the church’s Reverend doctor Michael Fay. “It’s always good fun.”

Originally, the Shrove Tuesday dinner only featured pancakes, which are an English custom. A few years ago, however, the church added music and the Cajun dish. “We decided to kick it up a notch and add jambalaya and the jazz band,” Fay said, noting that more people started attending the Shrove Tuesday event after they added music.

“Noise is a great socializer – you have to talk a little louder and get a little closer,” Fay said. “And they can feel like they participated in a party.”

Fay also called Tom Wolfe, the registered chef who makes the jambalaya, a “God send.”

“It’s great,” Katie Lady said about the event. “I enjoyed the food and the high school band did a wonderful job.”

The church absorbs the cost of the food, Fay said, and then gives away the money they make to local organizations or charities. Fay said they hadn’t decided who to give this year’s proceeds to yet, but said they usually make around $1,200 on the event. “Sometimes it’s a little more or a little less, but we try to give a little here and there,” he said. He estimated between 175 and 200 people attended the event.

Fay said shrove comes from an old Latin word shriven that means one’s sins are taken away.

“It’s the last time to have a really good time for 40 days,” Fay said.

Today marks the first day of Lent, the period before Easter that commemorates Jesus Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. Fay said his parish is encouraged to fast on a Wednesday or a Friday while an adult Christian formation group will go on a Benedicting journey.

“It’s about recognizing spirituality,” Fay said, emphasizing spirituality over the actual fasting during Lent.

On Tuesday, however, people had one last chance to party before the holy holiday begins.

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