22:59 PM

Giving Day and Mardi Gras Double the Fun at UST

Reflecting a Proud Legacy

“Throw me something, Mister!”

That’s what a crowd of laughing festival and parade goers will be shouting on Feb. 21 as the University of St. Thomas-Houston doubles its meaningful merrymaking by merging its annual Giving Day Festival with a colorful and lively Mardi Gras celebration.

All the Event Fun Fit to Feature

At 12:30 p.m. that Tuesday, students, alumni, faculty and staff will celebrate on the Campus Life Mall.  Live zydeco music, Cajun-creole food trucks, face painters, king cakes and a tally board for monitoring fundraising numbers will infuse the crowd with energy.

Then, at 1:30 p.m., a spirited and splashy parade will draw the multitude to Yoakum Boulevard. Parade-goers will be showered with purple, green and gold Mardi Gras beads tossed by riders from as many as 20 brightly decorated golf carts — representing various schools, departments and student organizations. UST’s student band will march. The University’s Homecoming Court will be there, as will people who want to walk alongside with their festooned pets.  

UST Mardi Gras in the crowded Houston ColiseumHistorical Fun Facts

Jacquelyn Olexa, director of Annual Giving & Advancement Communications, said, “Mardi Gras traditions at UST began in 1947 with a dance in Link-Lee Mansion. By 1950, Mardi Gras had outgrown the mansion and ballooned to a “Mardi Gras Extravaganza,” pushing the limits of the Houston Coliseum with 15,000 attendees. Back then, mega Hollywood celebrities, like Bob Hope, arrived to serve as honorary kings and queens.”

For those who don’t know, Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) evolved in the 1800s from a longstanding pagan holiday to a Catholic one full of symbolism. Take, for example, the baby in the “king cake.” That hidden treasure serves as the baby Jesus. Trying to find the baby represents searching for Jesus. Fat Tuesday is also the last day of indulgence before the season of Lent, a time of fasting. Not surprisingly, these and other liturgical ties secure Mardi Gras as part of UST’s culture.

“Likewise, Giving Day is part of the St. Thomas culture of goodness and community,” UST Chief Development Officer Dawn Koenning said. “It is one day in which the entire UST community comes together to have fun while generating money for our students.”

Here is how Giving Day works. Each school, center or department is encouraged to host campaigns that raise funds for an existing scholarship fund or budget-relieving programs. All campaigns strive to secure a match that applies toward their fundraising goal.

Both Giving Day and Mardi Gras are part of a proud UST legacy.

How to Help Make Giving Day a Success

Anyone interested in hosting a campaign on Giving Day is invited to contact the Office of University Advancement or Jacquelyn Olexa at olexaj@stthom.edu. All are encouraged to consider donating any amount to support UST students.