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School honors its late 'Mr. Mardi Gras' during annual celebration

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's Fat Tuesday, and that means Mardi Gras is in full swing, but you don't have to go all the way to New Orleans for festivities. St. Mary's Catholic School celebrated with its annual Mardi Gras parade this afternoon. But the school also mourned.

At St. Mary Mardi Gras celebrations were on every classroom's agenda. But before the big parade started, students and faculty gathered for a more solemn reason.

"We called him Mr. Mardi Gras here," parish secretary Simone Payne said. "He started the tradition here at St. Mary's, and we are continuing it in his absence."

Months after the school's Mr. Mardi Gras Clifton Lively Jr. Died, the school planted a tree in memory of the late facilities manager.

"We'll always remember Clifton bringing the Mardi Gras spirit to St. Mary's, and you know, we're really gonna miss the guy, and it's all about him today, but it's really a joyous occasion," teacher Larry McFarlane said.

The Louisiana native's legacy lives on at the annual celebration. The schoolwide affair involved learning the history of Mardi Gras, eating the king's cake and, of course, the bead throwing.

"It's pretty much like a fight to get as much as they want. It's pretty fun," student Abby Fisher said.

Student Abby Rollins said, "I had to have someone explain to me what it was, 'cause I had no clue what was happening here, and someone told me we get beads thrown at us, and I thought first, 'I don't wanna get beads thrown at me,' but it actually is really really fun."

To celebrate Fat Tuesday and the start of Lent, all 275 students at St. Mary School marched in a parade around the block.

The middle school band honored Mr. Mardi Gras with his favorite song, "When the Saints go Marching in."

Mardi Gras, of course, is the last day of celebration before Lent, which is the six weeks of the Christian calendar preparing for Easter.

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