By MIKE CHAIKEN
Grab your masks and beads and prepare to party among horses, lions, and dragons.
On Saturday, Feb. 10, Bristol’s New England Carousel Museum will hold its annual Mardi Gras party.
“The Mardi Gras party was the brain child of Joan Seguljic, a museum board member and long-time friend and supporter of the museum,” explained Louise DeMars, executive director of the museum. “She recommended that we join forces with the restoration business on the second floor and make it a building-wide event.
“Twenty eight years ago, the Carousel Museum was a tenant in the Riverside Avenue building,” said DeMars. “In 1992, we wanted to produce a new, unique event for Bristol that would bring people out of the winter doldrums and help us pay the bills. “
“Producing a Mardi Gras party proved successful thanks to many people… We were overwhelmed by the public response with over 400 people attending,” said DeMars.
“I vividly remember that it was a packed house and a wild and wonderful time,” said DeMars.
“Everything was donated… The place was jumping and the Mardi Gras committee had their hands full trying to keep up with the demand. It was an enormous amount of work but we had a blast and we were delighted with the success. It was the talk of the town,” said DeMars.
However, DeMars said, “We ran it for a few years and got worn down from the snow storms landing on our event date forcing us to stop doing winter events.”
“In 2013,” said DeMars, “we decided to resurrect the event and again people have come out to support the museum.”
“Now that the museum owns the building, we have more freedom so we have added a Speakeasy to the event, holding a wine and bourbon tasting, face painting, balloon twisting, and other entertainment including Steampunk activities,” said DeMars.
The fundraiser has proven to be a good fit for the museum, said DeMars.
“In order to accomplish the work needed to support our mission statement, to preserve and protect antique wooden carousels and educate the public, we need to find ways to bring in funding to accomplish that goal,” said DeMars. “Museums today need to be creative about how they accomplish that task.”
Besides being an opportunity for the public to be entertained, DeMars said the Mardi Gras party brings in funds to keep the museum operating past the winter when it is generally closed except for special events.
Since its return in 2013, DeMars said the annual event keeps growing. New guests join the fold and old friends return.
As the event continues, DeMars said, the guests have gotten bolder too. Although the museum has always welcomed costumes at the event, these days the number of guests getting into a sartorial Mardi Gras spirit has grown as well.
DeMars said you can wear anything from a full costume, just a mask, or simply wear whatever you’re comfortable in. “In addition to costumes, we see everything from cocktail attire with lots of beads and glimmer or your best jeans,” said DeMars.
“This party takes on a life of its own…,” said DeMars.
“(The Feb. 10 event) is a fabulous party with New Orleans style fun with lots of beads and doubloons, music and dancing, King and Queen (being crowned), masks and costumes, dinner, entertainment and the Speakeasy with a bourbon and wine tasting,” said DeMars. “Most importantly, it gives the community the opportunity to come and have a ball while supporting the New England Carousel Museum, a treasure in the Connecticut community.”
The New England Carousel Museum’s 28th annual Mardi Gras party will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10, from 7:30 p.m. to midnight.
Tickets are on sale at the Carousel Museum or you may order them by mail, by phone, or on-line. RSVP by Monday, Feb. 5
The cost is $50 per person and pre-paid tables of 8 may be reserved. The event will be held at the New England Carousel Museum, 95 Riverside Ave, Bristol.
For more information or to purchase tickets, contact The New England Carousel Museum at (860) 585-5411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN
Brooke Cyr, Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen, poses with some Mardi Gras masks and some of her favorite gowns at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, which is hosting a Mardi Gras party fundraiser on Feb. 10. Some masks are being sold at the museum’s gift shop to patrons who want to get into the Mardi Gras spirit for the Feb. 10 fundraising Mardi Gras party at the Riverside Avenue complex.