Mask madness

Some of the many masks that were auctioned off.

The bar and dining room at Verve Bistro in Somerville, NJ, was packed on February 18, Fat Tuesday, for the kickoff of the restaurant’s Mardi Gras With Matheny celebration, which continued for four more days, from February 19 thru February 22. The festivities included a mask auction, which began with silent bids on Fat Tuesday and culminated on the final day, along with a gumbo cook-off. There were also plenty of flashy decorations and trinkets, along with the traditional Mardi Gras beads.

Mask sales on Sunday, February 22, totaled $1,200. That, combined with partial proceeds from all five days resulted in Verve making a $2,500 donation to Matheny. Matheny staff and students contributed to the effort by making most of the masks that were hanging for sale in the bar area. Verve owner Rick St. Pierre is well known as someone who gives back to the community. In fact, in 2011, he was Somerset County’s citizen of the year. Thank you, Rick!

Some of the Matheny mask makers, clockwise, from left: Donna Sykes, Center of Medicine and Dentistry clinic manager; Haeree Park, Arts Access project and event coordinator; Eileen Murray, Arts Access director; Burt Brooks, Arts Access performing arts coordinator; and Jodi Miguel, adult services instructor.