For the past 23 years, a local church has held a Mardi Gras fundraiser. This year, it has been canceled due to illness.

“Everybody at the church has been having the flu and everything, we just decided we would not have the energy to do it,” said Vicki Hanna, coordinator of the event.

St. John’s Church by the Park, 305 W. Spring St., Neosho, was to have the event Tuesday. In the past, the church was decorated and for a ticket price, those attending were treated to home-cooked Cajun cuisine such as chicken gumbo, red beans and rice and more.

The money raised from the fundraiser went to worthy causes.

“In the past, we have used some of it for outreach, like helping the school with the backpack program or whatever,” she said. “We have sealed our parking lot. We bought a new sign and made repairs to the church. It is our only fundraiser, the only one we do.”

Typically, the church has seen a great turnout – more than 100 people most of the time.

“[The crowd] is from everywhere,” Hanna said. “That is really a hard thing to cancel it because some people have been calling asking when are you going to do Mardi Gras, well we are not going to be able to do it this year. Because people from Joplin, and all around always came down. We had regulars.”

In its history, this is only the second time they have had to cancel the event.

“It was about four years ago and we had the same problem, everybody was sick,” she said.“I was really sad… this was a hard decision. This was something that everyone looked forward to.”

The meaning behind Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras

Christians around the world celebrate Lent six weeks prior to Easter. For most Christians, Lent is a season of soul-searching, reflection and repentance. Lent is observed Ash Wednesday to Easter by the Roman Catholic, Eastern and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting.