WOONSOCKET â€“ If the New Year has been rung in, that can only mean one thing: Fat Tuesday is around the corner, and itâ€™s time to start looking for the Queen of Mardi Gras 2013.
The quest for the crown is officially on, according to the Northern Rhode Island Council on the Arts, which is marking the 19th anniversary of Woonsocket Mardis Gras this year.
The contest is open to all women who will be at least 18 years old by Jan. 25 and who live in the northern Rhode Island area. The title of queen and two â€śprincessesâ€ť will be selected based on the number of raffle tickets they sell. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the contestants after the winners are chosen.
Raffle tickets are $1 each and the first prize will be $300 in cash; second prize is tickets for three shows at the Stadium Theatre; third, a gift certificate for any Marriott Hotel; and fourth, a gift certificate to Uncle Ronnie's Red Tavern in Burrillville.
The queen will receive a package of gifts donated by area merchants as well as many gift certificates. The princesses and other contestants will also receive gift packages.
Mardi Gras was first celebrated in Woonsocket in 1954 when a four-day event drew crowds of up to 150,000 people at the height of its popularity.
The tradition continued until 1961 before fading away.
NRICA resurrected the celebration in February 1995, which makes this the 19th annual installment of the event, according to NRICA.
The celebration will be marked by Mardi Gras balls on Feb. 2 at two venues, the Elks Club with Jeff Gamache and his Orchestra and St. Ann Arts & Cultural Center, where the Slippery Sneakers band will play traditional zydeco music, cajun waltzes and blues. A full cajun-style buffet will be served at each site.
Tickets are available by calling Lorraine at 762-9072.
For more information, call reigning Mardis Gras Queen Jackie Boudreau, chairwoman of the contest, at 769-1099 or email JCBoudreau1@verizon.net.