United Way Mardi Gras Reaches Goal

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United Way Mardi Gras Reaches Goal

Solomons, MD - 3/8/2013

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By United Way of Calvert County

Left to right, Saquane Johnson, Shelby Potts, Dave McDowell and Kelly Chambers
Left to right, Saquane Johnson, Shelby Potts, Dave McDowell and Kelly Chambers

In its 13th year of hosting the Mardi Gras fundraising gala, United Way of Calvert County threw a juke joint-inspired party with plenty of “swing” for over 300 of Calvert County’s finest on Saturday, March 2, at the Holiday Inn Conference Center & Marina in Solomons.

With major support by Royal Crown Presenting sponsors Dominion and Holiday Inn, Mardi Gras brought back many returning sponsors and 20 new sponsors, grossing approximately $127,000, which surpassed the 100K goal. At the event’s onset, President and CEO of United Way of Calvert County, Kelly Chambers, thanked sponsors for believing in United Way’s mission and reminded guests, “everyone here tonight is making a difference in someone’s life.” United Way will host a special VIP party to honor its upper level sponsors on Thursday, March 28, 6 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn in Solomons.

Stretched throughout Holiday’s Inn’s Conference Center, Mardi Gras was bursting at the seams with merrymaking from the high energy rock and pop band, Prime Time, the Bourbon Street Live and Silent Auction, to novelties like fortune tellers and caricature art. Games reeled in special prizes, like the winner of the parlor games ticket who landed a $250 gift certificate to Sneade’s Ace Hardware, and the winner of the Razzle Dazzle Raffle ticket walking home with $7,000 in jewels from Maertens Fine Jewelry and Gifts. The southern-style cuisine, deliciously prepared by Isaac’s Restaurant, offered the kinds of dishes you would expect from New Orleans like shrimp and grits and oyster po’ boys, but a trip in the foggy Tin Pan Alley room uncovered some real gems - tastings of apple, peach and cherry Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine and spicy oyster shooters.

The Crowning Ceremony for Mardi Gras King and Queen was this year’s highlight with the reigning King Saquane Johnson and Queen Keely Tolley and five royal candidates strutting, twirling and posing to the Juke Joint Slide as they made their way to the main stage. Raised in the juke joints and blues halls of the south, Elvis, portrayed by Jim Godbold of Lusby, brought the scroll with this year’s results to the stage while twitching his hips to “Hound Dog.” With much applause from the crowd, Chambers read the names of the 2013 King and Queen- Lt. Dave McDowell, Patrol Commander for Calvert County Sheriff’s Department and Shelby Potts, Executive Director of Southern Maryland CAN (College Access Network).  McDowell and Potts, along with James Piatt, Beverly Brown and Clif Bridegum, raised approximately $69,000 of the Mardi Gras total revenue through votes, event sponsorships and special event proceeds.

As the director of a local agency United Way supports, Potts shared the significance of their efforts on her Facebook page. “The money we raise during Mardi Gras goes directly into the community to help people improve their lives. Education, financial stability, and health (the program areas supported by United Way) are the building blocks to a good life. We have specific programs that help our community with these building blocks. As the education representative I see how talking about and planning for higher education changes a student's mindset and goals.”

Later in the evening, Chambers announced that a candidate for queen had entered the race for 2014 with Jeannie Stone, co-owner of the Stoney’s restaurants in Calvert County, stepping forward on the dance floor to be acknowledged by the crowd. Chambers encouraged others to carry the torch for Mardi Gras 2014 – interested individuals should contact her at (410) 286-0102 or at kellyc@unitedwaycalvert.org.  To see highlights of this year’s Mardi Gras or to learn more about the local businesses that sponsored the event, visit www.unitedwaymardigras.com

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