Country Mardi Gras comes to town; and other Around Acadiana items for Jan. 26, 2016 _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Billy Gunn, clockwise from top left, Richard Burgess, Lanie Cook and Marsha Sills

The Pine Leaf Boys will perform and the official city Christmas tree will be lit Wednesday during the annual Thanksgiving Eve celebration and Lafayette’s final gathering of Downtown Alive! this year.

Gumbo, s’mores and hot chocolate will be served and toy donations will be collected for Toys for Tots. Anyone dressed as Santa or an elf may join Downtown Alive! and the Downtown Restaurant and Bar Association for a holiday-themed pub crawl.

The Lafayette Science Museum will offer free telescope viewing near the Parc Sans Souci fountain to look for the double star Albireo, the Andromeda Galaxy and the planet Uranus, with possible glimpses of the moon rising as the celebration comes to a close.

Downtown Alive! begins at 5:30 p.m., with music performances from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. No ice chests or pets.

Free bus rides in Lafayette

The Lafayette Transit System is offering free bus rides Friday and Saturday, including for Night Owl and Para-transit service.

Routes are accessible at ridelts.com or through Google Maps.

All public transportation services in Lafayette will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Music fest benefit

The second annual Al Berard Music Festival will commence on Saturday at Henry Guidry Memorial Park in Henderson.

Along with a dance competition, silent auction and spots for camping, jam sessions will be held throughout the day featuring Jimmy Breaux, Wilson Savoy, Ade Huval and Dustin Sonnier, among others. A number of musicians also will perform, including Bonsoir, Catin; Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars; NIK-L Beer; and Lee Benoit.

Festival admission is $10. Children 12 and younger enter for free. All proceeds benefit the Al Berard Memorial Music Fund, which supports Acadiana-area music programs.

For information, visit alberard.com or contact Laura Huval at grandanse fiddle@gmail.com.

Family-friendly holiday

Donate a canned good to St. Joseph Diner at the South College Center on Saturday and children receive a free ride on Santa’s sleigh before the lighting of the Christmas tree.

Sleigh rides will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and the official South College Center Christmas tree will be lit at 6 p.m.

The event also will feature one free game of bowling for children, a spot for children to write letters to Santa, face-painting and puppy petting and adoption, a visit from a snowflake princess and an ornament giveaway. Visit southcollegecenterlaf.com.

Free symphony

Acadiana Symphony Orchestra will perform a free “Sounds of the Season” concert Sunday in New Iberia.

The event begins at 3 p.m. at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 108 E. St. Peter St.

Submit items to Acadiana bureau chief Richard Burgess at rburgess@theadvocate.com or by fax to (337) 269-0410. Follow The Acadiana Advocate on Twitter, @theadvocateaca.