If you didn't get your share of Mardi Gras last Tuesday, then bring your beads, boas and masks back out for the 11th annual Mardi Gras Party that will benefit Children's Place Inc.
The event will be March 1 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Newberry Hall on Newberry Street.
Partygoers will be treated to a festive New Orleans atmosphere complete with authentic cuisine, including chicken gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish étouffée and jambalaya. The Palmetto Groove Band will also be performing throughout the evening.
Carl Smith and his wife Pearline Smith, of The Smith Group Tax and Wealth Advisors, started this party at their home more than a decade ago. He knows a thing or two about Cajun cooking – he's from Eunice, La., in the heart of Cajun country.
“I've got people coming in from Louisiana to help me,” he said. “We've been fairly successful.”
If the spicy food isn't to your liking, beef and pork roasts will also be available.
Smith said they started the party 12 years ago in their garage with three couples. Last year, the party had more than 200 people show up and raised about $15,000.
The party was free up until the last few years, and 100 percent of the money from admission will go to Children's Place, Smith said.
“We are a one-stop shop for children and families that are experiencing trouble,” said Peggy Ford, executive director of Children's Place, which is under the umbrella of United Way of Aiken County.
Proceeds from the Mardi Gras party will go toward the organization's family outreach program.
“This will be helping as we reach out to families that are experiencing difficulty, everything from a teenage child attempting suicide … to a family whose house burned down, and they're still living in two rooms of it because they don't know what else to do,” Ford said.
The program has also purchased groceries for families, enrolled children in sports groups and paid for “any of the extras that a family has ever had,” Ford said. “It has been a major gift to us.”
Smith said people may be curious why the party is scheduled two weeks after the Mardi Gras holiday.
“Mardi Gras is just a theme,” he said. “It's a way to get people out to enjoy the culture and the foods.”
A single ticket to the event is $50, and couples are $100. The event also has group packages available.
The “Mardi Gras Masquerade Table” is $500 and includes eight event tickets, a reserved table, two bottles of wine, access to the dessert tower and masks for guests.
The “Let's Go Zydeco Nook” is $850 and includes 10 event tickets, a personal lounge area, adult beverages, a lounge attendant and Mardi Gras masks and boas for guests.
In addition to the food and music, there will also be a raffle and a silent auction, for which donations are still being sought.
One thing that is unique about this party is that he and his wife pay all the operating costs associated with the party, including the food, band and facility.
“It's a true fundraiser,” he said. “Children's Place gets 100 percent of the revenue.”
For more information, to make a reservation or to donate an item for the auction and raffle, call 641-4144.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Clemson University and hails from Williston.
Submitted photo Pearline Smith, co-owner of Smith Group Tax and Wealth Advisors; Karen Tempel, winner of Mardi Gras Party raffle; Karl Smith, co-owner of Smith Group Tax and Wealth Advisors.×
Submitted photo The ninth annual Smith Financial and Smith Group Tax and Wealth Advisors party raised $6,900 for Children’s Place. In this photo, Michelle Scott, Don Hudson and Bonnie Hudson enjoy the Mardi Gras Party.×
Submitted photo The ninth annual Smith Group Tax and Wealth Advisors party raised $6,900 for Children’s Place. Pictured in this photo are Peggy Ford, Children’s Place, and Pearline Smith of Smith Group Tax and Wealth Advisors.×