PHOTOS: First ‘Mardi Paws’ a howling success

Founded only about seven months ago by Pallas Diaz, clinic executive director, the Collier Spay Neuter Clinic is already on the books as a success, with more than 3,000 sterilizations to date, a record in providing non-lethal alternatives to unnecessary euthanasia among homeless pets. As clinic board member veterinarian Will Rosenbaum put it, “We consider life too precious to end it prematurely.”

Their inaugural fundraising gala, chaired by Linda Simon and Sandy Cotter, marketing chairwoman, was planned to continue that record. Held at Collier’s Reserve Country Club on March 26th, the event drew approximately 125 revelers ready to “Laissez les bon temps rouler” as they say at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Encouraged to “Be who you aren’t this evening,” many arrived masked, beaded, feathered and costumed.

The over-the-top decor throughout the clubhouse came from Le Grande Affaires of Miami in recreating an authentic French Quarter ambience. In addition, projected videos dating back to the 1950s reflected days gone by.

There were more than 30 silent auction items including a number of animal-inspired original works of art acquired by auction chairs Deena Greene and Bryan McNelis. A pair of Tiffany dog bowls and a dinner prepared by private chef Sebastian Mazzotti were top raffle prizes. Cash donations of $25 each were solicited to fund sterilizations.

Louisiana blues guitarist Larry Garner and his ensemble brought his swamp blues traditions to the event that featured not only their sounds but a feast of New Orleans inspired-cuisine.

Club Chef Michael Madsen and his team produced passed taste treats, including brie-filled beignets, tiny cajun crawfish tails in pastry cups and bourbon-drizzled lollipop lambchops. Typically authentic creole standouts at the dinner buffet were dirty rice, seafood jambalaya and corn bread biscuits along with dessert beignets and traditional King Cake.

Cindi Alpert, emcee and former WAVE radio personality who now lives in Knoxville, also joined Garner’s band for some of the music.

Cotter estimates net income of approximately $12,400 from ticket sales at $125 per person, raffle ticket sales and the silent auction take. Proceeds will enable the non-profit, low-cost clinic to continue its work throughout Southwest Florida.

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