Mardi Gras For A Cause

February 21, 2012 Updated Feb 21, 2012 at 3:01 PM EDT

By WKBW News

February 21, 2012 Updated Feb 21, 2012 at 3:01 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - It's the 17th Annual Artvoice Mardi Gras party. The celebration kicks off with a parade that starts at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, and runs through downtown Buffalo.

Then, 46 bars and clubs in historic Allentown, on Elmwood Avenue, and in the Entertainment District, open their doors for some "last day before Lent" fun!

Many business owners, including Justin Andersen owner of Noir Lounge, were setting up all day for the big night ahead.

"Every bar is open and we decorate. The bars go from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. We have Cajun food with live blues music," Anderson said.

It's fun for everyone and won't pinch your pocketbook.

"You get a five dollar wrist band and it will get you in everywhere. If you have a wrist band you can get some Mardi Gras beads," Executive Director of the Give for Greatness Campaign Megan Callahan said.

Wrapped up in all the fun and excitement is a very good cause. Artvoice raises money for Hospice and the cultural arts in Western New York.

"Give for Greatness was started last year and powered by Artvoice. This is the first day officially of the giving season, so you can give to fifty organizations," Callahan said.

Organizers said this event is not only a celebration of Fat Tuesday before buckling down for the season of Lent, but it also brings people downtown, helping businesses to grow while also helping the arts.

"We're really trying to impress on Western New York that the arts just don't add an economic value to the area, they also enrich all of our lives. It attracts new people to live in the area," Callahan added.

Events kick off at 5p.m. and go until the beads run out!