Mardi Gras parties originated in ancient Rome, much like the toga and the tiny gnome that feeds plotlines to Dan Brown while he sleeps. Revel in such historical revelry with today's Groupon: for $30, you get one ticket to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI)'s annual Mardi Gras celebration in Birmingham, which takes place March 8 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. (up to a $60 value). Tickets for college students with IDs are regularly priced at $30.
The BCRI, founded to promote civil and human rights through education, will host masses of masked mortals at its 10th annual Mardi Gras celebration, themed this year as Social+Social Media, to raise funds for its educational programs. Partygoers can polish off Cajun-inspired fare and drinks while polishing their dance moves to live music by Jazz Safari or various tunes from the DJs. Attendees anxious about public speaking or thumb-muscle atrophy can participate in a text-to-win auction, which allows for digital silent bidding on autographed sports memorabilia, spa packages, weekend getaways, and electronics. Feel free to slap on a mysterious mask, don a funky hat, or switch jumpsuits with Danny DeVito to ruthlessly compete for a cash prize for most creative costume. Detective Chris Anderson, Birmingham Police Department veteran and current star of A&Es The First 48, will serve as the nights honorary host.
-   - The Institute serves as a national center for education and professional development on the American Civil Rights Movement and is one of the countrys top heritage-tourism sites. BCRIs mission is to promote civil and human rights worldwide through education. Smithsonian
-   - What more can you ask of such an institution - nothing.To gain an understanding of the issues, the context and the characters you must go and visit. I challenge anyone to come away and honestly say they did not learn anything and were not moved. ianmLondon, TripAdvisor
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