‘Prince’ to join Woonsocket’s line-up of Mardi Gras royalty

‘Prince’ to join Woonsocket’s line-up of Mardi Gras royalty

Top row, from left, are Adam Brunetti, Alex Kithes and Michael Morin. Bottom row, from left, are David Fisher, Eric (Chip) Cartier and Garrett Mancieri.
Residents vote for city’s most eligible bachelor

WOONSOCKET – In a city where long-standing traditions make February a festive time of year, with a coronation, a ball, and selection of a king and queen, members of the Downtown Woonsocket Collaborative think it’s time for the area’s most eligible bachelors to get in on the Mardi Gras fun.

Meet the potential Mardi Gras “Princes,” a group of six well-known faces in local culture and government competing for the first title in what the DWC hopes will become an annual contest.

And, yes ladies, they really are single.

“That was a requirement. They cannot be married or engaged,” said Melissa Murray, a city councilor who serves as DWC’s promotions committee chairperson. “That was the number one criteria.”

Competing bachelors include Adam Brunetti, the co-founder and co-chairman Woonsocket Autism Benefit, who also sits on several non-profit organization boards in the city.

Brunetti is a media and event producer, a member of an internationally recognized theatre company, and is currently wrapping up a national tour with Monster Jam.

“If theatre and music put stars (or hearts) in your eyes, vote for Adam,” a flyer for the contest proclaims.  

Recent City Council candidate Eric “Chip” Cartier is also in the running, described as a “social butterfly is also known for his jovial nature.” The director of compliance at CVS Health, Cartier serves on the Woonsocket Planning Board and the Autumnfest Steering Committee.

“If you love the corporate by day, party by night type, cast your vote for Chip,” the flyer advises.

Those voting in the light-hearted contest may recognize the third contestant from his 2013 mayoral campaign, when he took part in debates and discussions with former Mayor Leo Fontaine and current city leader Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt. More recently, bachelor David Fisher was one of 19 candidates to run for City Council.

A professionally trained chef and writer, Fisher currently works for Supreme Dairy and enjoys blogging about politics and the environment.

“If you enjoy deep political conversations over gourmet dinners, vote for Dave,” contest ads proclaim.

Contestant Alex Kithes first made waves in local government when he became an outspoken advocate for an ordinance that would have allowed city residents to raise chicken in their backyards. Kithes recently earned his graduate degree in chemical and biochemical engineering at Brown University after attending Boston University. Now an electrical engineer, he also writes a bimonthly column on urban farming for The Woonsocket Call.

“If you’re not ‘chicken’ to admit you’re an avid proponent of science and sustainable small-scale agriculture, vote for Alex,” notes the flyer.

Another well-known local bachelor, Garrett Mancieri, has been a real estate professional for the past nine years, helping both residents and businesses find space to call home. Mancieri served on the City Council from 2013-2016 and is still serving on community boards like Woonsocket Head Start and many others.

“If you have your heart SOLD, vote for Garrett,” his slogan states.

The final contestant has served as city fire marshal for years with the Woonsocket Fire Department and is currently serving his third term as a state representative of Wonsocket’s District 49. Michael Morin is a Rotarian and a board member for the Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Center, and he says that when he’s not saving lives, he enjoys golfing and being near the ocean.

“If the thought of politics and public service set you on fire, cast your vote for Michael,” prince contest flyers note.  

To vote for your favorite city bachelor, residents can visit one of several businesses along Main Street including River Falls Restaurant, the Museum of Work & Culture, New York Lunch, Timeless Antiques, Ciro’s Tavern on Cherry or The Opulent Squid/Yarnia. The public may vote for one bachelor at each location, with voting to remain open until Monday, Feb. 27.

It’s a way, Murray noted, to expand on the Woonsocket’s long-standing celebration of Mardi Gras, while encouraging residents to visit the city’s downtown.

“We know that Woonsocket loves its Mardi Gras,” said Murray. “It’s always very popular every year. We thought we’d build off of that concept.”

“Mardi Gras has a long history in the city of Woonsocket and has been a driving force of economic activity for the Main Street for decades,” noted a release on the contest. “The parades may be a thing of past but Woonsocket still likes to have a good time and remember those glory days.”

Unlike the annual Queen Coronation scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 and the Mardi Gras Ball scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25, the prince contest is not put on by the history and culture promoting Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts, but rather the Woonsocket Downtown Collaborative, a non-profit group of around a dozen volunteers working to promote and improve the Main Street area. The WDC includes small business owners and Main Street enthusiasts and is the driving force behind the city’s annual Holiday Stroll, a festive event that encourages residents to visit the downtown area each Christmas.

“We wanted to incorporate Main Street because we’re all about promoting downtown and supporting local businesses,” said Murray. “We thought this would be a good economic driver.”

The contestants, who boast a wide range of ages and backgrounds, were chosen by members of the WDC.

“We wanted to choose people who were fairly well-known in the community,” said Murray.

The winner will be announced at an event at River Falls on the actual date when most Mardi Gras celebrations take place across the globe: Fat Tuesday, or Feb. 28. The event, which will take place from 7 to 10 p.m., will be hosted by WNRI 1380 & 95.1 radio personality Dave Dean, and will feature cocktails and DJ entertainment. Tickets for the event are $10.

“It’s going to be a nice way to ring in Mardi Gras, “ said Murray. “It’s a good way to chase your winter blues away and have a fun time on a Tuesday night, and maybe even get someone a date or two.”

River Falls will be offering a special Fat Tuesday dinner menu prior to the festivities.

Murray said the WDC is also hoping to recruit more volunteers, and that members will be available at the party to speak with guests who want to learn more about their upcoming plans.

To learn more, follow the Woonsocket Downtown Collaborative on Facebook.