Fat Tuesday Brought Revelers Downtown

February 22, 2012 Updated Feb 22, 2012 at 9:15 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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February 22, 2012 Updated Feb 22, 2012 at 9:15 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) On "Fat Tuesday," from New Orleans to Buffalo, people lined parade routes to catch beads and party the night away.

In Buffalo, bars in Allentown and the Chippewa district were full.

Channel 7's John Borsa reports that there are three things you never expect to to find in Buffalo...hurricanes, alligators, and parades in February...unless you are talking Mardi Gras.

Chris Silverstein, chef and owner of the French Quarter Cafe in Allentown has been roasting gator for Mardi Gras for the past five years.

Silverstein told Eyewitness News, "The way we do it, on the spit like this, it's going to cook for a couple of hours. It's going to break down and be real tender, real smooth, it's going to melt right in your mouth."

It is served like pulled pork, and so popular that it sells out.

While the gators are turning, across the street at Mulligans Brick Bar, they are serving up another Mardi Gras tradition, "hurricanes." That's a classic "fat Tuesday" libation.

Amie Zinzola of Mulligans Brick Bar explained, "It contains an ounce of Southern Comfort, half an ounce of Bacardi, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, and a little splash of grenadine."

Hundreds of those will be served in downtown Buffalo, on what is being considered the second biggest Mardi Gras celebration outside of New Orleans.

"Fat Tuesday" is the day before the season of Lent begins, where Christians fast, go meatless on Ash Wednesday and every Friday, and give up something prior to Easter.

The celebrations Tuesday began with a parade. Thousands marched through the Elmwood Village, Allentown, and the Chippewa entertainment district. ARTVOICE, the alternative news weekly has been sponsoring this WNY event for 17 years.

Almost 50 bars and nightclubs donate their admission fees to charity. This year, the cash will benefit Hospice Buffalo and the "Give For Greatness" campaign to fund cultural institutions.

Megan Callahan from Give For Greatness mapped out the mission, "We're really trying to impress on Western New York that the arts just don't add an economic value, but also enrich all of our lives. It attracts new people to live in the area."