The good times rolled at Mardi Gras 2023!

The biggest event of the year, coinciding with FOJ’s 24th anniversary, showcased great music, food and auction items on Sunday, March 19, when the good times rolled.

Few annual Friends of Jazz events are better and none are bigger than the king of all major fundraising events, the Mardi Gras Ball, held March 19 at the Velvet Rose in Orange.

About 100 guests had plenty to celebrate at FOJ’s biggest party of the year. And it was all for a good cause:  Keeping music in the schools since 1999.

And boy did they celebrate! Plenty of dancing, parading, eating, drinking, bidding on auction items and just plain merriment.

At 5pm, doors opened for cocktail hour, and guests were greeting by the CSUF Titan Ramblers.  They were served delicious hors-d’oeuvres, given a drink ticket, beads, a colorful mask, and a ticket for a free photo while the band entertained. They also got their first look at the array of 75 silent auction items beautifully displayed in numerous baskets, and they bought tickets for a 50/50 drawing and the wine wheel (which included a chance for dinner at the Summit House).

Dressed in their finest clothes, masks and costumes, guests joyfully joined in the krewe parade led by FOJ’s dragon and Fullerton College’s Lemon Street Stompers (led by Director Bruce Babad on sax) throughout the venue, dancing and waving beautifully decorated parasols, while the krewe played “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

In the ballroom, the CSU Fullerton Jazz Orchestra, directed by Bill Cunliffe, provided some great entertainment for listening and dancing. Of course, what ball would not be complete without the 2022 king and queen, Nick and Dottie Batinich, whose reign began at the 2020 Mardi Gras ball. Then FOJ President Colleen introduced the new royal couple for 2023: Bob and Doris Muschek.

While at dinner, guests were treated to the vocal jazz group, Fullerton College’s own J-Train. Later on, their director, Jamie Shew, sang several crowd-pleasing jazz standards with the CSU Fullerton Jazz Orchestra, directed by Bill Cunliffe, along with local crooner Gavin Braun and surprise vocalist Mark Miller. And there were plenty of dancers who enjoyed the music.

After collecting their auction items, guests were given a commemorative bag with a ballpoint pen and a small notebook to take home.

Many thanks to the National Charity League gals, their moms and FOJ member Nancy Nehring for helping make the event a success. Kudos to Larry Arthur, MGB Director; Colleen Wadsworth, Assistant Director; Pam Appleman, Auction Chair; Don Dyer and Colleen Wadsworth, Emcees; and to the Mardi Gras Ball committee for tirelessly putting it all together. And thanks to you, our members, for helping to keep music in the schools by supporting this wonderful event. Hope to see you all at other fun FOJ events this year and at next year’s Mardi Gras!

Friends of Jazz is supported by the Johnny Carson Foundation.