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In its 13th year of hosting the Mardi Gras fundraising gala, United Way of Calvert County surpassed its initial goal to raise $100,000 at this year’s juke joint-inspired party.

According to a UWCC press release, the event brought in about $127,000 for its 31 partner agencies, which the organization supports through grants and services to help improve the education, financial stability and health of the community. This year’s gala featured plenty of “swing” for more than 300 local residents Saturday, March 2, at the Solomons Holiday Inn Conference Center & Marina.

Learn more

To see highlights of this year’s Mardi Gras or to learn more about the local businesses that sponsored the event, go to www.unitedwaymardigras.com.

To learn more about United Way of Calvert County, its partner agencies and program initiatives in health, education and finance, go to www.unitedwaycalvert.org.

With support by “Royal Crown” sponsors Dominion and Holiday Inn, Mardi Gras brought back many returning sponsors and 20 new sponsors, and President and CEO of UWCC Kelly Chambers thanked sponsors at the gala for believing in United Way’s mission, reminding guests, “everyone here tonight is making a difference in someone’s life,” the press release quotes. United Way will host a special VIP party to honor its upper level sponsors on Thursday, March 28, at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Solomons.

Stretched throughout Holiday Inn’s conference center, Mardi Gras featured high-energy rock and pop band Prime Time, the Bourbon Street Live and Silent Auction, fortune tellers and caricature art, the release states. Games reeled in special prizes, including a $250 gift certificate to Sneade’s Ace Hardware and $7,000 in jewels from Maertens Fine Jewelry and Gifts.

The southern-style cuisine, prepared by Isaac’s Restaurant, offered the kinds of dishes found in New Orleans like shrimp and grits and oyster po’ boys, but a trip in the foggy Tin Pan Alley room uncovered some other gems — tastings of apple, peach and cherry Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine and spicy oyster shooters, according to the release.

The crowning ceremony for Mardi Gras king and queen recognized this year’s five royal candidates who raised money and helped promote the gala. 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,” the release states.

This year’s king and queen were Lt. Dave McDowell, patrol commander for the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, and Shelby Potts, executive director of Southern Maryland 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, according to the release.

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,” Potts is quoted as stating in the release.

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.