Every year, the Fat Tuesday Celebration produces some seriously spectacular decorated carts. From boats that drive on land to carts made into tennis courts, the creativity (and fun) never ends. This year’s winners each had a story to tell.
Judges’ Choice – The Spa
Stephanie Karl decided last year she wanted to work with The Spa to create a meaningful cart as a way to say thank you for how greatly they’ve always treated her and her family. This past summer, she heard the song “Scars To Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara, sparking her idea for the cart theme.
“The words to that song are very meaningful and I believe they are in line with what The Spa represents to so many of us here at The Reef,” said Stephanie. “When you go into The Spa, it’s more than getting a massage or getting your hair done – it’s how they make you feel. Everyone leaves there feeling beautiful both inside and out.”
Spa associates took photos of Members who frequent The Spa and these were the focal point of the cart decor. Stephanie said some of the Members on the cart are fighting battles and “we wanted them to know they are loved and they are beautiful.” The cart-goers wore homemade shirts that read, “You are Beautiful” and passed out mirrors, while their theme song rang in the background.
Stephanie emphasized that their cart was meant for all at The Reef and she hoped everyone heard their message. “Everyone is beautiful no matter what battles you’re going through,” she said. “We wanted to celebrate this.”
People’s Choice – Bonefish Bonnies
This year, in honor of the Bonnies’ 20th anniversary, the Bonefish Bonnies’ birthday-themed cart was decked out with hanging shopping bags, a large birthday cake on the roof, and the Bonnies singing, “Happy birthday to us” as they drove in the procession to The Field at Four Corners. Bonnie members even passed out 400 homemade birthday cupcakes. If that was an attempt to bribe the judges, it worked! The Bonefish Bonnies’ birthday cart won “People’s Choice.”
Bonnie Laura Zausmer spearheaded the cart decorating, but emphasized it was truly a group effort. “We all get together and throw out ideas for our float theme,” said Zausmer. “We have a brainstorming group that usually begins planning a month or two in advance.” Laura said she ordered the birthday cake a few months ago, but didn’t realize it had to be plugged in to inflate. In a panic, she went to PakMail where they graciously helped her stuff the cake with packing supplies to make it stand up. “We couldn’t have done it without them!” Laura said.
When asked why the Bonnies go all out every year, Laura said the challenge, Sarah Cart said the Bonnie sisterhood, and Jessica Olefson exclaimed, “Well because we are the Bonnies!”
Most Festive – Art League
The Art League won “Most Festive” this year for their cart showcasing portraits of Academy children. Float ringleader Debbie Hartmann has a committee that works with her every year on the float saying, “It takes a village and a lot of Amazon orders.” Debbie began playing with float ideas last year but said the idea really came to a head in January. “I wanted to involve the children of Ocean Reef because they are the artists of the future,” she said.
With the theme in place, Susan Hirschbiel photographed the children. Putting together this particular float took about two days.
“Many of the children in the parade were those of Club associates,” said Debbie. “Once the parade ended, the beautiful portraits were moved to the Art League to be on display in conjunction with the Associate Art Show. Afterward, the portraits will be given to the parents.” The portraits can be viewed at the Art League along with pieces of work from our own Ocean Reef associates through Saturday, March 16.
Most Creative – Tennis & Games Center
This year’s “Most Creative” went to the Tennis & Games Center, representing Tennis, Pickleball and Card & Games. The goal was to have a cart for each aspect of the Center, and a large group of Tennis, Pickleball and Card & Games supporters walking with them.
The Tennis Team continued their five-year tradition – Kathy White and Bill Wonfor (former Cajun Queen and King of the Club’s Fat Tuesday Celebration) invited the team to their house to build/decorate the cart and enjoy dinner and games. In past processions, they’ve played tennis behind the cart, had a mini tennis net on the cart, but this year the cart itself was transformed into a tennis court. With some help, Bill created the tennis court out of wood in about two hours and the Tennis Pros played tennis over the “court” as the procession went on.
Pickleball and Card & Games were just as fun. Tom Davidson drove his 1969 Red Mustang through the procession, while pickleball players dinked around it. It was a big dill! And Claudia Langworthy and Helen Stein gathered Canasta players to take part in the Card & Games cart.
“Canasta is growing with leaps and bounds at the Tennis & Games Center so we had no shortage of people who wanted to participate,” said Claudia. Not-to-be-missed was the Card & Games’ adorable mascot – Cat-nasta! Jan Broton walked her cat Gabby in a stroller, decorated with the nine of clubs card. “We thought nine of clubs was appropriate because cats are said to have nine lives and clubs looked the most like cat paws!” said Claudia.
From Tennis and Pickleball Pros in short shorts and mullet headbands, to the Cat-nasta mascot, the Tennis & Games carts were fun, lighthearted and humorous, giving everybody a good laugh and a good time!
Congratulations to all our winners!