By Deb Everts

Celebrate the last days of the ski season at Ellicottville’s annual Mardi Gras and Winter Carnival weekend, March 14-15. There is plenty of family fun downtown and on the slopes at Holiday Valley all weekend.

On Saturday night, the annual Mardi Gras Parade will be featured in the village. The parade is planned to have fantastic floats with marchers and spectators alike wearing their zaniest costumes. 

Barb Pump, project development manager for the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, said parade participants should start lining up by Katy’s Café on Washington Street and be ready by 6 p.m. because the parade officially begins at 6:30 p.m.

To help celebrate the Town of Ellicottville’s 200th birthday this year, Pump said the Mardi Gras Parade will be led by the group organizing the bicentennial. She said “Bicentennial” will be the float theme.

For more information on the parade, call Pump at (716) 699-5046.

Holiday Valley’s Winter Carnival will feature fun activities and events for the whole family, both Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Marketing Director Jane Eshbaugh said the biggest winter event of the season has been going on for over 50 years, and all the main events people have enjoyed in the past will be back again. 

“The carnival is the kickoff of the Town of Ellicottville’s Bicentennial Celebration,” she said. “There will be a historical display upstairs in the main lodge from noon to 3 p.m., both days, and Edna Northrup will be talking about the start of skiing in Ellicottville and Holiday Valley from 1:30 to 2 p.m.”

The main highlights of the weekend include the Costume Parade and the Dummy Downhill event, both on Sunday, and the Snowbar at the base of Yodeler slope all weekend.

On Sunday, participants in the Costume Parade will proceed down Mardi Gras slope at noon, then be judged at the bottom around 12:30 p.m. The winners, one adult and one child, will each receive a season pass for next year. 

Eshbaugh said Costume Parade entrants are encouraged to participate in the Mardi Gras Parade held Saturday in the village at 6:30 p.m. She suggests they wear historical costumes this year to go along with the Bicentennial celebration.

Everyone’s favorite Dummy Downhill will be held Sunday at the base of Yodeler Lodge at 2:30 p.m. People create dummies on skis or snowboards that they take up the hill and let go. When the dummies go over a big jump, they crash.

As the Winter Carnival weekend gets closer, a schedule for the 2020 event will be posted. Visitors can expect similar activities to last year’s carnival including the Ski Patrol Pancake Breakfast, Safety Patrol Cookout, Bar Hang Contest at the Snowbar, lawn games, a synchronized ski contest and beer slalom, hot dog cookout, face painting, a scavenger hunt, Check Your Speed Radar on Foxfire, tubing, live music, raffle drawings.

Throughout the weekend, the Holiday Valley Ski Patrol will be having a Food Drive to benefit the Ellicottville Food Pantry. People can donate at Tops Markets, bring their donation to the village parade, or drop off their donation at Guest Services at Holiday Valley.

For more information, call Eshbaugh at (716) 699-3904. Full schedules will be available at holidayvalley.com and ellicottvilleny.com.