The Coeur d’Alene Arts & Culture Alliance held a major fundraising benefit event – a grand “Krewe d’Alene Mardi Gras” celebration on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 at the downtown Coeur d’Alene Eagles. With the motto “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!) approximately 200 supporters enjoyed a New Orleans style dinner while the Hot Damn Scandal Band played vibrant ‘Tipsy American Blues’ music that kept toes tapping and the dance floor full.

Kevin & Ali Shute, CDA Arts & Cultural Alliance Executive Director greet arriving guests

Kevin & Ali Shute, CDA Arts & Cultural Alliance Executive Director greet arriving guests

Guests were greeted at arrival, often by Executive Director Ali Shute and Dianne Ansbaugh, and upon entrance to the festively decorated ballroom found colorful Mardi Gras beads available for purchase. Nearby the royal table was set with gifts for ‘best costume’ and ‘most spirited reveler’ along with robes and crowns for Mardi Gras royalty to be announced later in the evening. In addition, a series of imaginative Mardi Gras masks created by local artists were displayed for party-goers to view prior to being auctioned.

The evening’s entertainment commenced shortly after the opening of the doors with a baton twirling performance, followed by Middle Eastern style belly dancing. The final flourish was provided by Mickey Howard who proceeded to entertain guests by juggling balls, clubs and rings while playing a harmonica and balancing on a large ball and unicycle.

Dinner was set up buffet style and featured New Orleans style muffulettas and a spicy jambalaya prepared by Chef Kris McIlvennie of 315 Cuisine/Greenbriar Inn. Dave Walker presided as auctioneer for the sale of the Mardi Gras masks as models strolled among the diners. And then John and Cindi Thoma were crowned King and Queen of festivities and recognized for their generous donation supporting the Alliance.

Queen Cindi & King John Thoma greet guests

Queen Cindi & King John Thoma greet guests

Finally, the Hot Damn Scandal band from Bellingham, WA played their rousing version of ‘gypsy blues’ music, and merrymakers, including Board Chair Steve Gibbs of the Art Spirit Gallery, filled the dance floor and festivities continued on into the night.

The Alliance functions as the home of the arts in Coeur d’Alene with a mission of promoting visual, performing, written, and cultural arts and supporting education for the arts as well as providing valuable networking opportunities for those involved in the arts. Programs include: ‘art from the heart’ (a community-wide celebration in honor of National Arts & Humanities Month); ‘artwalk’ and ‘music walk’ (regularly scheduled strolls through supporting downtown Coeur d’Alene galleries, shops, and restaurants); ‘artists studio tours’ (visits to artists at work in greater Coeur d’Alene); ‘Arts Buzz’ (a monthly opportunity for non-profit groups to review events and opportunities); ‘Kids Draw Architecture’ (giving young artists a chance to work with local experts in sketching local architecture); ‘Music for the Wise’ (bringing local musicians/choral groups to entertain residents at assisted living facilities); and the ‘summer concert series’ (free concerts by local musicians at Riverstone Park during July and August generously sponsored by Global Credit Union).

The Alliance’s website directory provides links to authors, fine artists, galleries, graphic artists, musicians, photographers and theatre companies in the Coeur d’Alene area as well as contact information for Executive Director Ali Shute, Board officers and individual Board members. Key sponsors (STCU, 315 Martinis & Tapas, and Nspire Magazine) and numerous supporting businesses are listed as well.