Kansas City Connection: Love, Mardi Gras in the air

Don’t look now, folks, but it’s almost Valentine’s Day. While I fully support your plan to stay home and snuggle on the couch with your sweet boo, I’m still going to try to persuade you to make the trip to Kansas City instead.

If Valentine’s Day isn’t your thing, fear not — there are also benefit concerts, horror films and Fat Tuesday festivities.

Holiday: Valentine’s Day Wedding Marathon

For couples who are serious about taking the next step, (I’m looking at you, fellow thirtysomethings), why not take advantage of Unity Temple’s Free Valentine’s Day Wedding Marathon?

This annual event offers couples of all religious backgrounds a chance to be legally wed in one of three private chapels at 707 W. 47th St. on the Country Club Plaza — all for free.

The Rev. Duke Tufty started the program 13 years ago as a way to help those under financial constraints, but these days anywhere from 25 to 40 couples from all walks of life get hitched there on Valentine’s Day. Tufty also notes that Unity Temple offers holy unions for same-sex couples.

“I’ve met with a lot of conflict and opposition for it over the years, but I feel right in doing it,” he says. Couples are encouraged to register by Monday, so if the offer sounds appealing, act now. Call Christine Garvey at 816-994-8009 for more information.

Movies: Classic romances

If classic cinema is more your speed, Screenland Armour in North Kansas City (408 Armour Road) is offering its annual Valentine’s package for two films: “Casablanca” and “When Harry Met Sally.”

The films are showing at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The $40 package includes two tickets, one large popcorn, a bottle of wine (or two chocolate beers) and four locally made mini-cheesecake bites.

Individual tickets can also be purchased for $8, but then you miss out on the scrumptious treats (ahh, cheesecake bites ... I wish I didn’t love you so much).

For a different film experience, go see the 1981 horror classic “My Bloody Valentine,” playing at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the Screenland’s sister theater in the Crossroads (1656 Washington St.).

Music: Miles Bonny at The Kill Devil Club

My personal recommendation for Valentine’s Day is to visit downtown Kansas City’s cocktail bar The Kill Devil Club (31 E. 14th St.).

The club’s menu was designed by mixologist extraordinaire Ryan Maybee, and the entertainment offerings have been no less enticing. On Thursday and Feb. 21, DJ and soul musician Miles Bonny will be treating guests to jazz, soul and hip-hop, spinning records, singing and even playing trumpet for no cover charge.

His new “Egg Black” EP is recommended Valentine’s listening whether or not you leave the house —  it’s so hot you could fry an egg on it.

Mardi Gras celebrations

Now let’s rewind a couple of days to Fat Tuesday.

Mardi Gras mojo is a real thing in K.C., and for the past month, various groups (or “krewes”) have been hosting private parties and masquerade balls.

It all comes to a head Tuesday when the krewes convene at 7 a.m. in front of YJ’s Snack Bar at 128 W. 18th St. in KCMO. If you can’t make it that early, catch the parade train at 6 p.m. for the late session.

Another good place to celebrate Mardi Gras is at Jazz, a Louisiana Kitchen, at 1823 W. 39th St. Try a shrimp po’boy or chicken a la mer and save some room for beignets and chicory coffee. Great live music, too.

Fundraiser: JayRock featuring Cowboy Indian Bear and Quiet Corral

On Friday, The Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway St.) hosts the eighth annual JayRock fundraiser concert, which benefits the free health clinic run by medical students at the Kansas University School of Medicine.

This year’s lineup includes Lawrence favorites Cowboy Indian Bear and Quiet Corral, the latter of which has earned comparisons to Mumford and Sons. Tickets start at $21, and the $41 VIP passes include Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ and an open bar (hey, it’s for a good cause). Tickets and more information at jayrock.jaydocfreeclinic.org.

Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you'd like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at kcconnection@ljworld.com.

— Lucas Wetzel grew up in Westwood, Kan., graduated from KU in 2004, and has since worked as a freelance writer, editor and language trainer in Leipzig, Germany, and Kansas City, Mo.

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