Living thousands of miles from Venice, Rio and New Orleans doesn’t mean Salemites can’t properly celebrate the carnival season culminating in Fat Tuesday, which falls on March 8 this year.

“Mardi Gras is a great holiday, so we always like to put something on. It’s one of those holidays with no negative things attached to it. It’s just about having fun, getting together, dancing, dressing up. It’s the last day, then you’ve got 40 days of giving up something. You better take care of it on Tuesday!” says Dr. Keller Coker, Western Oregon University’s Associate Professor of Music.

On March 8th, the school is going all out with a Mardi Gras style event featuring a student band, the Brazilian Combo (WOU campus, Rice Auditorium, 7:30 p.m., free).

Last year, WOU put together another Mardi Gras party at the Grand Ballroom and lots of people came in costume or at least wearing the Mardi Gras colors, purple, green and gold.

“It’s samba night, carnival music. They celebrate bigger in Rio than in New Orleans. And now, of course, in the greater Salem-Monmouth area,” says Coker.

The event will only last a couple hours, so Salemites will still have time to check out other Fat Tuesday celebrations at the local bar of their choice, many of which will have Cajun food specials, costume prizes and of course, lots of beads for those who dare!

If you wanna get the party started at home, here are some of the most popular drinks in New Orleans:

The Sazerac (America’s first cocktail!):

3-4 dashes of absinthe (120 proof)

2 oz. Rye- or Bourbon-blended whiskey

3-4 hearty dashes of Peychaud bitters

One long, thin twist of lemon

Sugar cube, water, club soda — optional

Place absinthe in a well-chilled Old Fashioned glass. Tilt glass to coat sides completely and pour off excess. Place Rye and Peychaud bitters into cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake for 30 seconds and strain into prepared glass. Twist lemon peel over drink and drop in gently.

Hurricane (the kind that people actually enjoy):

2 oz light rum

2 oz dark rum

2 oz passionfruit juice

1 oz orange juice

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

1 Tablespoon simple syrup

1 Tablespoon grenadine

Garnish: orange slice and cherry

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.