Photo: Assemblywoman Latrice Walker with attendee

By: Angella Brown

The good times rolled in at Tilden Senior Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn on Mardi Gras, where over 150 lively seniors gathered to celebrate Fat Tuesday, before Lent, with a festive luncheon. A richly decorated dining room at the center welcomed guests for a taste of Louisiana home cooking. Every attendee also received colorful party favors, noisemakers, and authentic beads like the kind freely thrown on New Orleans’ famous Bourbon Street every year during this time.

The full menu was a treat for the Fat Tuesday revelers: fish gumbo, cajun chicken wings, potato salad, collard greens, cornbread and rolls. For dessert, there was traditional king cake, a sweet pastry colorfully decorated with the jubilant royal colors of purple, green and gold sugar.

Prior to lunch, guests had a chance to mingle and snap selfies while wearing zany accessories like bright feather boas and glittery fancy hats. A live band provided entertainment: jazzy, traditional second line numbers that urged guests to get up out of their seats and dance! There was also time to visit the Alphacare table and pick up information and free swag. Community Outreach Manager, Beatrice Morton was delighted to be in attendance. “Once again, Alphacare is a proud sponsor of the Mardi Gras celebration at Tilden Senior Center,” said Morton. “Special thanks to director Wanda Burris and all her volunteers, for helping to bring a little New Orleans to Brooklyn.”

Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (District 55), pitched in to help even before the crowds began to arrive: she helped the volunteers organize and bag party favors. “This is one of my favorite events at Tilden,” she said. Miss Burris is originally from New Orleans, so her Mardi Gras style is authentic. With her personal flair, she really brings it for Fat Tuesday!

It was immediately clear this annual fete is a labor of love for TSC Director, Wanda Burris. Born and raised in New Orleans, Miss Burris finally left the Big Easy for Brooklyn after historic Hurricane Betsy in 1965. After stints in construction and banking, Miss Burris joined the TSC staff as acting director in 1992, at the request of a local pastor working with seniors in the community. Miss Burris is proud of the now 700+ senior membership of TSC, saying: “These seniors are active! We go on bus trips, cruises…we’ve been to Nashville, Atlanta, the Caribbean…we stay on the move.” The Mardi Gras event, which has grown steadily every year, has taken more and more of her time, but Burris feels this is her calling. “I love what I do. I am a child of God, and I feel I will do His will, do it ‘til He says I’m done.”

Mardis Gras Tilden Center Director

Above: Wanda Burris, Senior Center Director


Tilden Senior Center – (718) 498-2990

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