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It's Fat Tuesday – Where Can You Find Mardi Gras in the East Bay?

From "swamp boogie" to grilled gator sausage, East Bay venues celebrate the last day before Lent begins

Oh, to be in New Orleans, now that Mardi Gras is here...

Well, no, actually. Not if you are over 30, or maybe 25. Not unless you have entree to a private party or an invitation to watch the goings-on from someone's private ironwork balcony in the French Quarter.

I love New Orleans, but I haven't been there on Fat Tuesday (the day before Lent begins, and the culmination of the city's Mardi Gras celebrations). From all reports, it's a madhouse heavily populated by alcohol-fueled tourists and college students.

So, if you're not in New Orleans today, what are your local options for celebrating?

East Bay choices are a bit thin, but tempting.

At Yoshi's Oakland, you can celebrate with Henry Clement & the Gumbo Band. Yoshi's says "his Swamp Boogie/Second Line style of music and his evocations of the sights and sounds of New Orleans and Mardi Gras makes him and his band a real treat." It's an all-ages show with an open dance floor. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. $18 per person. 510 Embarcadero West, Jack London Square, Oakland, (510) 238-9200.

Miss Pearl's Jam House, adjacent to the Waterfront Hotel at Jack London Square, Oakland, promises live music by the Craig Caffall Blues Band, $5 Hurricanes, gumbo and bar bite specials, 4 p.m. to midnight. (510) 444-7171.

In Berkeley, Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen has a Mardi Gras menu that includes blue crab crabcakes, fried alligator, grilled gator sausage, a fried softshell crab po'boy, house-made king cake and Angeline's Hurricanes. Open till 9 p.m. at 2261 Shattuck Ave. (near Bancroft), Berkeley, (510) 548-6900. Reservations highly recommended.

Also in Berkeley, a group calling itself Berkeley Mardi Gras was planning an informal all-day parade that appears to feature large green frogs. They are aiming for lunch at People's Park about 3 p.m. and a sunset arrival at the Ashby BART Station, Adeline and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. Enjoy it if you stumble across it.

Chicken and sausage gumbo is on the menu tonight at High Street Station, 1303 High St., Alameda, with dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and The Gene Maurice Dixieland Band playing from 7 to 9 p.m. $15 per person. (510) 995-8049.

Across the Bay Bridge, San Francisco has plenty going on. You can check out possibilities at CBS Local and SF Weekly.

Or you can cook up some red beans and rice, download some Preservation Hall Jazz Band from iTunes and relax at home.

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