For more than a decade, starving college students have filed into the University Catholic Center atrium on Fat Tuesday to prepare to eat their fill of barbecue during the Alpha Chapter of the Lambda Omega Alpha Catholic fraternity’s celebration of the centuries-old holiday.
This Tuesday marks this year’s Fat Tuesday celebration, also known as Mardi Gras. In celebration of the last day before Lent, a season of fasting and charity for Christians, Blake Simon, president of Lambda Omega Alpha’s UT chapter, said they will host their annual Carneval event.
“The day before fasting you pig out,” said Simon, a mechanical engineering junior. “We have this event on Fat Tuesday because one of the things many Catholics will end up giving up for Lent — or at least they need to on Fridays — is meat.”
Simon said Carneval will consist of their annual three-hour-long all-you-can-eat barbecue meal with the purchase of an $8 ticket. House Park Bar-B-Que, a local barbecue restaurant,
will be providing the meat.
“It is open to the entire campus community, no matter how you affiliate,” said Brian Talbot, Lambda Omega Alpha secretary and history senior. “It is a beautiful thing when everyone is able to come together for something, whether it is something as simple as a meal or helping others.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit Sammy’s House, a local nonprofit that helps low socioeconomic status families that have children with disabilities. Simon said they were inspired by one of their founding members who has a child with Down syndrome.
“When we were looking for a charity, this one stuck out because we already had that connection,” Simon said. “We thought it would make sense to partner with a charity that helps (the) disabled.”
Talbot said the event has been hosted for as long as he can remember and has provided numerous opportunities for the organization to get to know the UT community.
“Last year when we hosted the event, it was in conjunction with another event at the Catholic center,” Talbot said. “It was very cool to just get all of these different people from campus coming in and getting to know them while serving the community. It was very cool to have that experience of sharing with other people.”
While serving at Carneval, Matthew Martinez, vice president of Lambda Omega Alpha, said they made quite a lot of entertaining memories along the way.
“Every year we have a hot dog suit that has been passed down for generations, so whoever ends up doing that always ends up having a good time,” said Martinez, a computer science junior. “(Also), if a week after the event you wear the same shirt that you were wearing, you are going to smell like smoke. You are going to smell like smoke for weeks. Any time you pull that shirt out it is a constant reminder that we had Carneval.”
Also of importance, Talbot said, is the religious significance that the celebration of Fat Tuesday has for them as a Catholic fraternity.
“It holds not only a big significance for us as a service fraternity, but also as a spiritual community,” Talbot said.
However, amidst all of the fun, Talbot said for them the most meaningful part remains in being able to provide help for others through this event.
“I think giving back is one of the most important things you can do, not only as a Catholic but as a human being,” Martinez said. “That should be a focus: how we can better serve other people.”