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Rotary Sponsors Mardi Gras for Charity

If you missed out on Mardi Gras, here is one last chance to put on your costume and dance the night away for a good cause at The Tysons Ritz- Carlton Hotel in McLean, Friday March 8.

Organized by the Rotary Clubs of Alexandria West, Bailey's Crossroads, Dunn Loring, Falls Church, McLean, Rosslyn/Ft. Myer, Sterling and Tysons Corner, the Rotary Gala will be held to benefit the more than 50 charities and foundations of Northern Virginia.

The eight northern Virginia Rotary Clubs decided on this year's theme to provide the colorful and festive atmosphere of New Orleans and Mardi Gras. In addition, there will also be information about Rotary awareness and what other Rotarians do around the world. "The purpose is to use the event's jubilation to get people interested in servicing others — to give something back," said Dr. Berdj Kenadjian, chairman of the Public Relations Committee for Rotary.

According to Kenadjian, last year's gala raised $16,000 and this year they are hoping to double this amount. Each one of the eight Rotary Clubs receives a certain amount of the revenue, depending on how much was donated from that area. Local charities will be emphasized but international projects will also be supported.

Julia Kurtz, coordinator of the event, has been busy since last July mobilizing talent and resources from the eight Rotary Clubs to organize a fun-filled gala which will include a silent auction, a lottery draw, a sumptuous Cajun dinner and dancing to the live music of Night life.

The menu will be New Orleans style, with crab and corn mini-tartlettes and black bean cake, a delicious seafood gumbo and marinated tenderloin beef with bourbon sauce and spiced shrimps. The typical fried green tomato remoulade is not to be missed, and neither is the spinach flan and red beans rice. To finish off with a dessert, there will be a southern chocolate pecan tart with salty praline ice cream and caramel sauce fried plantains.

TWO LOTTERIES WILL BE ON THE AGENDA, one of them the Rotary lottery where half of what the winner receives will be donated to a beneficiary organization. In the Champagne lottery, the contestants buy a glass of Champagne for $50 to win a diamond worth $5,000. In addition, for those who are interested in their future destiny, attendees will be able to meet with a fortune teller and a tarot card reader.

Some of the contributions for the event's silent auction are donations from hotels and restaurants, dental laser whitening appointments, and art-related things from The Kennedy Center. There are also dance club lessons and travel packages to be auctioned off.

The Northern Virginia Rotary Clubs hope this event will promote fellowship between Rotarians and increase Rotary awareness in the community.

"The business and professional leaders in our community will take a greater interest in joining our global network of community leaders and volunteers if they get a taste of what Rotary awareness and fellowship can do to create a delightful evening of great fun, tremendous bargains, and fascinating information which add up to more joy than many of us expected to have in celebrating our traditional holidays," Kurtz said in a press release.

Rotary is an international non-profit organization which can be found in more than 160 countries. With its members of more than 1.2 million people, the Rotary Clubs provide not only humanitarian service for the community and in the workplace for higher ethical working standards but, also for international scholarships, cultural exchanges and humanitarian projects around the world.

On the international front, the Rotarians are working to eradicate polio by the year 2005. "In India, 100 million children get immunizations with the help of government and police, which is a good example of the cooperation between public and private sectors," Kenadjian said.

The Rotary motto is "Service Above Self" and is open to anybody who wants to join.

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Tickets for the Mardi Gras Gala are available for $130 per person. Cocktails and silent auction will start at 6:30 p.m. and the dinner and dance at 8:30 p.m. For more information regarding the Mardi Gras event and sponsoring, call 703-761-6155 or visit their Web site www.RotaryGala.org.