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UCLA Ends Mardi Gras Fund-Raiser

May 24, 1996

Citing financial woes, UCLA has canceled its 55-year-old Mardi Gras celebration, a spirited event that has drawn thousands of people to the Westwood campus each May and raised money for charity.

The event, once touted as the largest student-run charity fund-raiser in the country, lost about $20,000 last year because of poor attendance, said David Lowenstein, director of the campus Central Ticket Office and the Mardi Gras event manager for the past 30 years.

Last year's event attracted about 22,000 people, far below the peak of about 80,000 in the mid-1980s, Lowenstein said.

Event organizers said the drop in attendance followed a decision three years ago to stop operating at night for security reasons. They expected the event to return eventually but could not give a specific date.

"The UCLA community and especially the students are rethinking the nature of Mardi Gras," Lowenstein said.

"It's a student decision on how to formulate an event that can be successful."

Mardi Gras celebrations have raised money for UCLA's official charity, UniCamp, which sends underprivileged children to summer camp in the mountains.

Without the Mardi Gras funding, the camp will have to reduce its summer sessions, serving about 300 fewer children than the approximately 1,000 it has been accommodating each summer, a counselor said.

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