By LOIS KINDLE
The Firehouse Cultural Center is set to host an event like no other the community has seen, and you’re invited to come have a blast in the Big Easy.
Reservations for Bourbon on the Bayou are required by Feb. 25, and this is one event you won’t want to miss. The revelry begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail party for 100 patrons and 7 p.m. for all other guests.
“The Firehouse will be transformed into a New Orleans-style experience,” said Beth Stein, cultural center programming coordinator. “We’ll have a raw bar, made-to-order beignets, Big Easy music and food, a high-end bourbon tasting, festive floats, colorful beads and more. It’ll be like Mardi Gras in Ruskin.”
Guests dressed for the Mardi Gras theme or in cocktail attire will amble around the cultural center grounds to visit four food stations, three open bars, raw bar, a high-end bourbon tasting station and cigar bar at the gazebo.
The food will include blackened chicken, dirty rice and black beans; peel ’n’ eat hot or cold boiled shrimp; fresh, shucked oysters on the half shell and crab cakes; chicken and shrimp jambalaya bowls with white rice, Rajun Cajun chicken pasta bowls and French bread.
Pirates and wenches from the Krewe of South Shore Marauders and Krewe of Charlotte de Berry will be on-site to hand out beads and interact with guests. Live music will be performed by T-Bone Hamilton’s eight-piece Big Easy Revue, featuring guitar, bass, drums, piano, three horns and solo performances by Valerie Gillespie and Dan Harris.
The event will feature silent and live auctions of the following upscale items:
• New Orleans Jazz & Dining package (three-night stay and airfare)
• Kentucky Bourbon Trail package (three-night stay and airfare)
• Signed bottle of Horse Soldier Barrel Strength Bourbon Whiskey from the American Freedom Distillery
• Rolling Stones limited edition, autographed and painted guitar
• A four- or five-night Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas or Caribbean
• Tennessee Whiskey Adventure (three-night stay and airfare)
• Weekend stay at Little Harbor
• Fred Rothenbush original, colored-pencil drawing
• Tickets to the Straz Center
• Yacht StarShip Tampa dinner cruise
• Gift baskets, artwork and more
Tickets for Bourbon on the Bayou are $85 for individuals and $150 per couple. Patrons pay $150 and $300, respectively. A reserved table of eight for patrons is $1,200. Valet parking is free. To RSVP, call 813-645-7651.
All proceeds will benefit the Firehouse Cultural Center Scholarship Fund, which enables adults and children from low-income families attend summer arts and education classes, the expansion of cultural center programs and facility updates. Contributions to this 501(c)3 nonprofit organization are tax-deductible.
“This event has replaced our formal annual galas, which were held on private properties,” said Executive Director Georgia Vahue. “We plan to make this the first of many annual Big Easy-themed fundraisers offering great food, great fun and great music!”
As they say in New Orleans, “Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)!”