10/20/05 — WCC planning 'Mardi Gras' Friday for storm victims

View Archive

WCC planning 'Mardi Gras' Friday for storm victims

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 20, 2005 1:45 PM

Wayne County residents are being urged to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina Friday while enjoying a taste of Mardi Gras.

"Mardi Gras North" will be held at Wayne Community College.

The college is inviting the public to attend the event from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and again from 5 until 9 p.m. in the main building on the ccollege campus.

Mardi Gras North will serve as a fund-raising event to help the staff and students at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Biloxi, Miss.

Tara Humphreys, the college's public information officer, said the Mississippi school held its own version of the annual festival held in New Orleans. But it was much milder in nature than the world-famous street festival.

"Their Mardi Gras is like ours is going to be, family-friendly," she said. The carnival will include plenty of food and entertainment.

A silent auction will be going on all day. The Carolina Hurricanes hockey team and Carolina Mudcats baseball team have provided memorabilia and tickets, the college's art students have created unique masks, and individuals and businesses have donated other items.

Ms. Humphreys said the college has received a box from Nashville, Tenn. filled with autographed CDs, photos, T-shirts and posters from stars like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. The items will be included in a silent to help the staff and students of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, celebrants can play games, including a cake walk, hat walk, and gift certificate walk. Starting at 11:30, Cajun and Southern foods will be sold, as well as baked goods and barbecue sandwiches. Some campus organizations will be selling masks and different color beads.

The celebration continues from 5 to 9 p.m. The college's atrium will take on the air of the streets of Biloxi with Mardi Gras decorations. Attendees can stroll past street performers and musicians, play games, snack and drink 'mock-tails' (alcohol-free frozen drinks).

Children's games and face painting also will be available.

A variety of gospel, bluegrass, country and other musicians will perform.

Stormy, the Carolina Hurricanes' mascot, is expected to arrive at 6 p.m. in his Ice Hog Hauler. He'll be signing autographs and posing for pictures for a small donation.

All proceeds from the event will go to students, faculty and staff of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Biloxi, Miss. A check will be presented to that college's representatives this Saturday, which is national "Make a Difference Day."

"We know that most people cannot afford to give big bucks, so we organized this as an affordable, fun way for people to help hurricane victims," Ms. Humphreys said. "Most activities will cost 50 cents or a dollar, not much, but every cent will help a family that needs it."

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College had a student enrollment of more than 10,000. That was about three times that at Wayne Community College. Then in late August, Hurricane Katrina struck. The college experienced extensive damage but was able to resume classes Sept. 14.

However, about 25 percent of the students have not been able to return because they were displaced, have financial difficulties or other reasons.

Around 50 of the college's employees lost their homes. A college spokesman told Ms. Humphreys, "All they have left is stoops and slabs."

Ms. Humphreys stressed that the proceeds will be used for the people affected by the storm, not the college's facilities.

The American Association of Community Colleges has indicated that it intends to match funds raised during the event Friday. WCC President Ed Wilson is a member of the association's board of directors.

Donations are welcome, and organizers are looking for volunteers and performers. Ms. Humphreys can be reached at 735-5151.

"One way or another, our college has touched most of the people in this community," Ms. Humphreys said. "We'd like for them to help us touch others in another community."