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Mardi Gras goes underground as city ramps up preparations 

It was a busy week for San Luis Obispo police officials: There were radio interviews, more “stay home, stay safe� ads, and even a briefing for local media on what to expect during the Mardi Gras weekend.

Over at the Ludwick Center on Santa Rosa, officials closed the building to the public and began turning it into an “incident command center� from where law enforcement agencies will direct their forces throughout the city over the big weekend. In one room, cloth-draped tables were set up in a U-shape in front of large projection screens. Phones sat at each chair at the table, giving the room the feel of a Cold War-era spy movie. Close by, technicians were busy connecting cables in a room full of computers.

But around the city, the pre-Mardi Gras buzz typical of previous years was difficult to find. There were no flyers or ads listing event times and celebration locations, and aside from a few beads draped around public art sometime Sunday night, there were very few green-and-purple decorations to be found.

That doesn’t mean that parties and the Mardi Gras Ball aren’t happening, though. In fact, some organizers are saying that there are actually more events than ever. This year, information about the invitation-only events is being passed around via word of mouth and private e-mail lists.

One longtime organizer, who asked not to be named because of the negative stigma that’s currently tied with Mardi Gras, confirmed that they would even be naming a king and queen at this year’s ball.

“It’s not for the city anymore,� the organizer said of the decision to take the Mardi Gras Ball underground. “We’re tired of doing something that the kids will wreck and that the city doesn’t understand.�

— Abraham Hyatt

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