No matter what the temp, the bon temps must rouler
IMAGES: Matthew Thorsen 
It was one of the coldest parades, and definitely the snowiest, since Magic Hat brought the Mardi Gras to Burlington 11 years ago. But some 15,000 revelers came downtown last Saturday anyway -- men, women and children clearly in desperate need of shiny beads.
Queen City krewes are growing ever more sophisticated -- and so are the judges: One of this year's panelists was rock star G. Love; another, a honcho from ESPN. Allscripts Health Care Solutions took first place with a big showboat float, which included a working wheel. Second place: American Flatbread, with a float about farmers and food. Unicel, however, won a second grand prize for raising the most money. Magic Hat's Stacey Steinmetz says it was a record year for donations to Mardi Gras beneficiary the Women's Rape Crisis Center. "We're at $15,000 and counting!" she reports.
What didn't work so well: the duct tape and zip ties holding up the banners -- it was just too cold, Steinmetz says. Oh, and speaking of banners: If you're one of the people who ripped off those formerly affixed to the City Hall railing, how about giving them up for Lent?