MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Yuma civilians, Marines, sailors and their families let loose at the Sonoran Pueblo Sept. 30 to raise money for service members affected by Hurricane Katrina.
One-hundred percent of the proceeds from Marine Corps Community Services’ annual Mardi Gras party this year will go to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society’s Hurricane Katrina Fund, which is helping retired and active duty Marines, sailors and their families cope with the recent disaster, said station NMCRS Director Lora O’Hara.
The party raised $6,730 for the fund, which as of Saturday had already distributed more than $1.8 million to victims of the disaster, O’Hara said.
The Mardi Gras party is one of few on-station events that are open to the public, and it gave the Yuma community and Marines here a chance to come together for a good cause, said Jude Crouch, MCCS Recreation/Semper Fit division head.
“We’re making it a community-wide relief effort so everyone will have the chance to participate,” said Crouch. “We know there’s an awful lot of giving people in Yuma that are looking for a way to donate money, time and effort and show they care.”
Many businesses also supported the event. Local television and radio stations gave free advertising to the party, and many of the event’s entertainers gave their time and effort free of charge, said Crouch.
The event featured a Cajun buffet, live music from the Yuma Jazz Company and Rising Star, a San Diego based band, tarot card readings by local mystic The Gypsy Woman, gambling for prizes with Paradise Casino and an abundance of beads, costumes and decorations.
The event also featured a king’s cake, in which was hidden a small gold baby. The lucky person who found the baby in their piece of cake took home a big-screen, high-definition television.
But at the core of the party was the feeling of charity.
“That’s why I came,” said party-goer Angie Creel-Erb. “I have a friend that’s from New Orleans, and she had to move back to her home town -- gone, that’s it. So, anyway we can help -- and have fun -- is great.”
Creel-Erb said she was very impressed with the party.
“A soul band singing the cure with belly dancers and clowns – it was the most surreal experience,” she said.