Monday March 07, 2011 | 03:19 PM

Fat Tuesday is tomorrow - the annual the feast before the fast of Lent. Lenting folks will forgo chocolate, alcohol or meat (perhaps just on Fridays, and then only when they happen to remember that they gave up meat for Lent, which is apparently hard to remember, according to a colleague of mine).

And while Lent is an important religious observation for some, the pre-Lent period known as Mardi Gras is just as important to others, for very different reasons.

Mostly it's the beads. And the masks. And the drink specials.

In Hallowell this weekend, locals rode the Mardi Gras spirit down Water Street during the annual Mardi Gras celebration. The event initially started as a Mardi Gras Ball, but eventually morphed into a day's worth of events including a sled race, mask-making workshop and parade.

But it's the bar crawl - featuring 11 participating bars and restaurants - that seemed to lure out the locals on Saturday.

Bargoers donned masks and beads and feathers. And the good people of Gritty's were on hand promoting their beers in town (and giving freebies to smart Gritty's drinkers).

Big decorative hats were seen.

As was a large pink rabbit.

And a dude who appeared to be a cross between Darth Vader and the bird-ish star's of Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal. I look scared, but he really was a perfectly affable fellow.

The bars were shoulder-to-beaded-shoulder by 9 p.m. - with plenty of dancin' music supplied by talented locals.

Money raised by the $10 bar crawl pass went to support arts and music programs in the Hall-Dale schools, which, on top of the beer specials, jambalaya and all-around revelry, is a nice added bonus.

About the Author

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Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.

Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.

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