There are no awards for the Mardi Gras Madness 5K or 10K, just the rewards that come with exercise and camaraderie, the walk’s organizers say. That, and the New Orleans-inspired food tasting at the end for participants who register and pay by Saturday.
“Our mission is to get people out, get people moving and walking, and we like to do it in a fun way,” said Debbie Kruep, the coordinator for Mardi Gras Madness that will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Feb. 18. Her organization, the Gateway Milers, is working with Belleville’s Main Street to promote downtown businesses with the walk.
It’s a version of the annual Belleville Gingerbread Cookie Walk in December, where walkers collect cookies along the way. This time, they’re collecting beads.
For $3, walkers get a list of shops and sites to visit along the historic route. For $7, walkers get a passport and a list, and collect beads along the route.
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The start and stop is at Toot’s Cake and Candy Supplies, 314 E. Main St. in Belleville. Register at Toot’s for the passport and food tasting. Registration is required so a food order can be adequate for the catering.
The large foyer that Toot’s shares with other businesses makes it a great spot to meet, owner Ann Davis says.
“We have a full line of supplies for the home bakers and candy makers — that way people who see things on Pinterest and YouTube know we have that kind of product for them,” Davis said.
The cake and cookie supply provider says the Mardi Gras walk will have a trail to follow, unlike the cookie walk that allowed for participants to go in any direction.
Kruep says the Gateway Milers typically have a walking expedition together on Saturdays, and every couple of months have an event like Mardi Gras Madness.
“If it was up to me, I’d do (a group walk) every day,” she said.
While Kruep is an experienced walker, generally walking 12 miles a day, she says the Mardi Gras Madness is a family-friendly event for leisurely walkers. She says a 5K can be completed in about an hour.
“If you want to enjoy it and look at things in the shops, I would allow an hour and a half or two hours,” she said.