A former queen, a princess, and returning contestants compete for 2018 Mardi Gras crown

A former queen, a princess, and returning contestants compete for 2018 Mardi Gras crown

Amanda Girard has been involved with the Mardi Gras for several years as a contestant. She is a resident of Woonsocket and attends the Community College of Rhode Island. She is a member of CCRI Players, International Club, and Student Government. Girard has also performed in several productions at the Stadium Theatre. She said she loves helping out such an awesome cause for Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts and being a part of doing something good for the city.

WOONSOCKET – The Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts has announced the names of five contestants competing to be queen of the 2018 Mardi Gras Ball festivities.

Kimberly Blais, Ellen Cloutier, Amanda Girard, Tammy Irwin, and Joyce LaPerle are selling raffle tickets for a drawing to be held at the celebration on Saturday, Feb. 3.

The title of queen, and two princesses, will go to the contestants who sell the most raffle and event tickets. Tickets for the raffle are $1 each and will be entered into a drawing for four prizes on the night of the Mardi Gras Ball. First prize is $500 cash; second prize is a $300 gift certificate to Mohegan Sun; third prize a $100 Visa card and fourth, a $50 gift card to Savini’s Pomodoro Restaurant. 

Coronation tickets are $10, and Mardi Gras Ball tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Proceeds from the ticket sales help offset expenses for the Mardi Gras celebration. Contestants receive 10 percent of all raffle ticket sales and a point value for all sales to help them attain the top three places.

The queen and her court will be crowned in a special pre-Mardi Gras Ball event on Friday, Jan. 26, with a special reception at Savini’s Pomodoro Restaurant, from 6 to 8 p.m. The mysterious monarch, King Jace XXIV, will also be unmasked that evening by the new queen. The king’s identity is kept secret until then, while a contest to determine his identity keeps the general public guessing with the help of clues and photos. Dave Richards, manager of WOON Radio in Woonsocket, is once again chairman of the King Jace contest.

The queen will preside over the Mardi Gras which will be observed Saturday, Feb. 3, at St. Ann Arts & Cultural Center, 84 Cumberland St. There will be music and dancing with Jeff Gamache & Runaway Train, a Rhode Island based band, and the featured zydeco band Squeeze Box Stompers. A buffet will be catered by Russell Morin Caterers. Tickets are $30 in advance and can be purchased by calling Lorraine Cloutier at 401-762-9072. Tickets for both events may be purchased from the contestants as well.

Kimberly Blais is the executive assistant to the superintendent of Woonsocket schools and is very active in the community. She is a committee member for the Milk Fund, secretary to the St. Jude’s Woonsocket Chapter and enjoys volunteering whenever needed. Blais is the mother of Kayla and Kasandra and aunt to Arianna Montanari. She said, “I am devoted to my city. I enjoy being active within the community, volunteering for causes that will make a difference in the lives of others. Having said this, I am honored to be part of the Mardi Gras and helping to support the arts.”
Joyce LaPerle lives in Woonsocket and is employed at Oakland Grove Health Care Center for the past 16 years, where she has earned the title of employee of the month. She is coordinator of holiday celebrations, oversees all gardening and decorating throughout the building and entrance. She said she loves listening to local residents reminisce about growing up and working in the mills of Woonsocket, history she believes should be preserved. Her special interests are spending time at the ocean and boating. She is an avid supporter for the Stadium Theatre and The Alzheimer’s Association as well as New Beginnings, formerly known as Because He Lives. She is also president of River Island Condo Association. LaPerle was Mardi Gras Queen in 2005 and believes her dedication and support for the NRICA and the arts will again help in keeping the culture and traditions alive in the community. In her spare time, she helps her sister, Jeanne Bis, and Ralph Bileau at Bileau’s Flowers in Woonsocket.
Tammy Irwin participated in last year’s contest and earned the title of princess. She is owner and operator, with her husband, Frank, of Timeless Antiques and Collectibles. She is also a member of the Woonsocket Historical Society, Downtown Woonsocket Collaborative and has participated in the Main Street Stroll committee. She loves the history of Woonsocket. She said she is very excited to be a part of Mardi Gras and its tradition and at the same time support the arts in the community.
Ellen Cloutier is participating in the contest for a second year. She is a resident of Woonsocket and is a published poet. She enjoys swimming, softball, reading and writing and wants to be involved in the community. Her grandmother, Jeanne Cloutier, encouraged her to participate.