Masquerade Ball benefits hurricane aftermath

Student organization raises over $1,000 to aid in rebuilding Gulf region


Molly Traudt (from left), Liz Graesser, Alex Stewart and Mary Rose Gietl attend the Masquerade Ball hosted by MARDI GRAS Friday.
Molly Traudt (from left), Liz Graesser, Alex Stewart and Mary Rose Gietl attend the Masquerade Ball hosted by MARDI GRAS Friday.

Last Friday night, the walls of Marquette Place in the Alumni Memorial Union were decked in purple, green and gold for the Masquerade Ball. Students danced and sported costumes, masks and beads.

The money raised at the event supported MARDI GRAS, a student organization that plans three trips a year to New Orleans to help in relief and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in August 2005.

“We’ve reinvented the Masquerade Ball,” said Stephanie Treffert, a senior in the College of Health Sciences and the events coordinator for MARDI GRAS (Making a Real Difference in the Gulf Region and Areas Surrounding).

The Masquerade Ball was the third event MARDI GRAS has held, but this was the first year it has been held in the first semester. This was also the first year attendees were encouraged to wear costumes.

“Masquerade Ball is one way to incorporate culture and raise money here on campus,” Treffert said.

She said the organization was looking for a way those who can’t go on the trips can contribute to MARDI GRAS’ cause.

“Part of the charm of New Orleans is that you’re learning people’s stories and you’re learning what it means to live in a city like New Orleans now,” Treffert said.
To share some of the group’s experiences, there was a slideshow playing pictures from previous trips to New Orleans.

Tickets to the event were $5 in advance and $7 at the door. About 177 people attended the ball, raising more than $1,000. The money will benefit a nonprofit, grassroots organization called Common Ground Relief, which helps in many aspects of the rebuilding of New Orleans, including supplying drywall materials and services for new homes.

“Literally anything and everything in between they have done and are doing,” Treffert said. “So the goal is that when we go down to our winter break trip, the money that we raise from Masquerade Ball will help sustain some of those projects we are working on.”

Katie Leaverton, a senior in the College of Business Administration, works on the MARDI GRAS events committee and helped plan the event.

The events committee met once a week to plan the event. Leaverton said this year’s event had more hype and publicity than past years. Posters for the ball were displayed around campus and tickets were pre-sold in residence halls and the AMU.

Taryn Smith, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, attended the Masquerade Ball. She had not been previously involved with MARDI GRAS, and after attending the event said she would like to possibly work with the group in the future.

Smith and a group of her friends dressed up for the theme.

“I thought maybe I’d be one of the only ones in a mask,” Smith said. “But a lot of people are getting into it, so it’s great.”