From the late 1940s until the early 1980s, the Notre Dame Mardi Gras celebration at one point ranked “as one of the top three college weekends in the nation.” [South Bend Tribune, 02/21/1963; PNDP 70-Ma-01]
The weekends were student-organized and over the years featured dances, carnivals, and jazz concerts, drawing big names such as Tony Dorset, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and the Four Tops.
Students also sold raffle tickets, whose profits went to support a number of charities, including foreign missions, scholarships for students in countries devastated by World War II, scholarships for Notre Dame students, and a number of Notre Dame social service organizations such as CILA and the Neighborhood Study Help Program.
By selling raffle tickets, students were eligible to win prizes, ranging from desk sets and radio transistors to sports cars and vacation trips.
In the early 1980s, the bishop of the Fort Wayne – South Bend Diocese encouraged Catholic churches and organizations in the diocese to comply with Indiana state law, which banned gambling. Carnival games replaced the casino element in 1982. Because of this and other intangible factors, extravagant Mardi Gras celebrations were no longer an annual campus-wide event at Notre Dame.