Poland Escape Room Deaths

Forensic and other police experts examine the site of a fire in an Escape Room, in Koszalin, northern Poland, on Saturday. Investigators in Poland blamed a gas leak in a heating system at an ‘Escape Room’ for a fire that killed five teenage girls and injured a man.

Mardi Gras season kicks off with king cake, revelry NEW ORLEANS | As the rest of America winds down from the parties, overeating and merriment of Christmas and New Year’s, New Orleans keeps the party going. Mardi Gras season officially kicked off Sunday is often referred to as Epiphany, Twelfth Night or Three Kings’ Day and commemorates the day the Bible says the three wise men reached the baby Jesus. For weeks, the city is taken over by elaborate parades and people stuffing their faces with sugary king cake. The party culminates on Fat Tuesday, which this year falls on March 5.Here’s a look at some of the things to expect this Mardi Gras season: TWELFTH NIGHTA number of parading groups often dubbed krewes take to the streets Sunday to kick things off. One group parades through the French Quarter to honor the fallen French hero, Joan d’Arc. Another group, Phunny Phorty Phellows, heralds the arrival of Carnival with a streetcar ride down St. Charles Ave. wearing costumes. This year they’ll be trailed by a new group called the Funky Uptown Krewe, who will ride on a separate streetcar with New Orleans producer and rapper DJ Mannie Fresh performing. Craig Mangum, the krewe’s founder, said they’ll also be handing out CDs and mixtapes featuring New Orleans artists such as Bonerama and Hot 8 Brass Band. Riders will also be wearing costumes, he said: “As funky as you want.” LET THEM EAT CAKE Probably the biggest single sign that Mardi Gras season is upon us is king cake. The ring-shaped cakes often decorated in the Mardi Gras tri-color of purple, green and gold can be found at bakeries, restaurants, office parties and homes across town during the season. Cakes can be plain or filled with fruit and cream or laced with cinnamon. Bakers go all out. Exhibition to celebrate role of Fred Meijer as arts patron GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. | An upcoming exhibition in western Michigan will celebrate the role of Fred Meijer as a patron of the arts. “A National Treasure: Fred Meijer, His Collection and Legacy “ opens Feb. 1 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. It’s timed to commemorate the centenary of Fred Meijer’s birth and runs through Aug. 25.Fred Meijer, who built the Midwest retail powerhouse Meijer Inc., died in 2011 at age 91. His vision for Meijer Gardens helped shape the Grand Rapids attraction, which opened in 1995. Organizers say the exhibition will display 11 “chapters,” each based around original works of art from Meijer Gardens’ permanent collection as well as loans from sculptors and galleries that Meijer knew and admired. The exhibition also will mark the debut of a series of recent acquisitions.Soulja Boy’s car among those trapped by California mudslide LOS ANGELES | Rapper Soulja Boy was among motorists whose cars were trapped by mudslides caused by a powerful storm that shut down Southern California’s Pacific Coast Highway. The 28-year-old retweeted a photo of the mudslides in Malibu on Saturday. He said: “My car got stuck too almost went into the ocean” and also posted a prayer emoji. Soulja Boy’s real name is DeAndre Cortez Way and he has retweeted well wishes from fans and news stories about the mudslides. No injuries were reported after heavy rains swept through greater Los Angeles, loosening hillsides in areas scorched by recent wildfires. The highway remains closed Sunday as crews tow away trapped cars and clear the lanes. Soulja Boy’s last album is “Young Drako.” It was released in October. Kid Rock stirs more controversy with planned bar sign NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Singer Kid Rock has hit another sour note with some in Nashville, this time over a large sign planned for his recently opened bar. News outlets report the 20-foot-tall neon sign will feature a giant guitar in which the base of the instrument is intentionally shaped like a woman’s buttocks.Metro Council approved the necessary aerial encroachment to allow for construction and installation of the sign. Mayor David Briley signed into law the council resolution authorizing the sign Friday. But its approval didn’t sit well with several council members, who called the sign tacky and bemoaned that Lower Broadway has steered further away from a place for family fun. In November, Kid Rock’s profane comments on live TV got him booted from leading the Nashville Christmas Parade.

Mardi Gras season kicks off with king cake, revelry

NEW ORLEANS | As the rest of America winds down from the parties, overeating and merriment of Christmas and New Year’s, New Orleans keeps the party going. Mardi Gras season officially kicked off Sunday is often referred to as Epiphany, Twelfth Night or Three Kings’ Day and commemorates the day the Bible says the three wise men reached the baby Jesus. For weeks, the city is taken over by elaborate parades and people stuffing their faces with sugary king cake. The party culminates on Fat Tuesday, which this year falls on March 5.

Here’s a look at some of the things to expect this Mardi Gras season:

TWELFTH NIGHT

A number of parading groups often dubbed krewes take to the streets Sunday to kick things off. One group parades through the French Quarter to honor the fallen French hero, Joan d’Arc. Another group, Phunny Phorty Phellows, heralds the arrival of Carnival with a streetcar ride down St. Charles Ave. wearing costumes. This year they’ll be trailed by a new group called the Funky Uptown Krewe, who will ride on a separate streetcar with New Orleans producer and rapper DJ Mannie Fresh performing. Craig Mangum, the krewe’s founder, said they’ll also be handing out CDs and mixtapes featuring New Orleans artists such as Bonerama and Hot 8 Brass Band. Riders will also be wearing costumes, he said: “As funky as you want.”

LET THEM EAT CAKE

Probably the biggest single sign that Mardi Gras season is upon us is king cake. The ring-shaped cakes often decorated in the Mardi Gras tri-color of purple, green and gold can be found at bakeries, restaurants, office parties and homes across town during the season. Cakes can be plain or filled with fruit and cream or laced with cinnamon. Bakers go all out.

Exhibition to celebrate role of Fred Meijer as arts patron

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. | An upcoming exhibition in western Michigan will celebrate the role of Fred Meijer as a patron of the arts.

“A National Treasure: Fred Meijer, His Collection and Legacy “ opens Feb. 1 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. It’s timed to commemorate the centenary of Fred Meijer’s birth and runs through Aug. 25.

Fred Meijer, who built the Midwest retail powerhouse Meijer Inc., died in 2011 at age 91. His vision for Meijer Gardens helped shape the Grand Rapids attraction, which opened in 1995.

Organizers say the exhibition will display 11 “chapters,” each based around original works of art from Meijer Gardens’ permanent collection as well as loans from sculptors and galleries that Meijer knew and admired. The exhibition also will mark the debut of a series of recent acquisitions.

Soulja Boy’s car among those trapped by California mudslide

LOS ANGELES | Rapper Soulja Boy was among motorists whose cars were trapped by mudslides caused by a powerful storm that shut down Southern California’s Pacific Coast Highway.

The 28-year-old retweeted a photo of the mudslides in Malibu on Saturday.

He said: “My car got stuck too almost went into the ocean” and also posted a prayer emoji.

Soulja Boy’s real name is DeAndre Cortez Way and he has retweeted well wishes from fans and news stories about the mudslides.

No injuries were reported after heavy rains swept through greater Los Angeles, loosening hillsides in areas scorched by recent wildfires.

The highway remains closed Sunday as crews tow away trapped cars and clear the lanes.

Soulja Boy’s last album is “Young Drako.” It was released in October.

Kid Rock stirs more controversy with planned bar sign

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Singer Kid Rock has hit another sour note with some in Nashville, this time over a large sign planned for his recently opened bar.

News outlets report the 20-foot-tall neon sign will feature a giant guitar in which the base of the instrument is intentionally shaped like a woman’s buttocks.

Metro Council approved the necessary aerial encroachment to allow for construction and installation of the sign. Mayor David Briley signed into law the council resolution authorizing the sign Friday.

But its approval didn’t sit well with several council members, who called the sign tacky and bemoaned that Lower Broadway has steered further away from a place for family fun.

In November, Kid Rock’s profane comments on live TV got him booted from leading the Nashville Christmas Parade.