Carnevale flavor takes over WICA during Mardi Gras

Little did Holly Price know when she came dressed to the nines to last year’s Whidbey Island Center for the Arts Mardi Gras that she would captain this year’s big party Feb. 7.

Price and her husband, David, were crowned last year’s WICA Mardi Gras king and queen. This year, she stepped forward as organizer of this year’s event.

“It’s not mandatory of our king and queen, but Holly just had so many ideas,” assured WICA executive director Stacie Burgua.

It’s the third year WICA has hosted Mardi Gras — one of two big fundraisers held each year at WICA. Both Mardi Gras and WICA’s annual auction are critical to the financial survival of the arts center.

“If it wasn’t for the funds contributed through our generous donors and through Mardi Gras and the auction, we wouldn’t be able to support the programs we host year-round,” Burgua said.

To its organizer, Price, Mardi Gras is not just a fundraiser. It’s also a chance for adults to answer their inner children.

“Like they say in Venice, a mask allows everyone to enjoy a little revelry without the fear of ridicule, and that is exactly what we’d like party-goers to do,” Price said. “You can be anyone for the evening, on three continents, just have a great time, all the while supporting the arts at WICA.”

This year, WICA will be transformed into a Mardi Gras fantasy land with an international flavor. Guests will be able to stroll along the Grand Canal of Venice and wager on gondola races, or head over to Rio and dance in the Samba parade. In a New Orleans quarter, a fortune teller awaits. Guests can cast a memorable spell with white magic voodoo dolls, casino games, and a photo booth.

The King Bees of the Bayou make a return engagement to WICA Mardi Gras and will bring along their musical troupe complete with fire breathers, straightjacket escapees and walk-around palm readers.

The different cultures will also bring different tastes to the palette thanks to Island Chef Tim Goeken. Venice will bring an oyster and seafood bar. Rio will include tropical fruit kabobs and jerk style beef. New Orleans will offer a taste of cajun with jambalaya and more.

Items for the Mardi Gras silent auction include four proprietary memberships worth $6,000 to Useless Bay Golf & Country Club, a private Thai cooking class and dinner, and a guided geological tour of Whidbey Island.

Although highly encouraged, costumes are optional at the event. Price recommends going incognito.

“I don’t think my husband ever took his mask off,” Price said. “We never go out on the island, but at Mardi Gras he danced all night.”

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