Aspen’s Fat Tuesday event easily lives up to its name |

Aspen’s Fat Tuesday event easily lives up to its name

Naomi Havlen

Aspen’s Fat Tuesday fund-raiser for Hurricane Katrina relief truly can be described as fat – as of Thursday, organizers said they’d collected about $118,000, with more to come in.The large sum includes proceeds from 14 participating local restaurants ($73,875), about half of the proceeds from a silent auction ($30,000), cash donations made at the door of the Belly Up nightclub (about $10,000) and a $5,000 donation from the local Board of Realtors.The event brought out valley residents of all ages Tuesday night to eat dinner out, listen to live music all over town and visit the Belly Up, where local bands entertained while a silent auction collected donations.”Once the dust has settled, we expect to have over $150,000, no doubt,” said Dave Cook, who helped organize the silent auction. “I’m very proud of our efforts and the results.”Money still needs to be collected from four local restaurants and half of the silent auction donations. About $750 worth of merchandise went missing during the silent auction at the Belly Up nightclub, including some clothing and jewelry – Cook said he has searched high and low for the items that may have been stolen during the event.Even still, he referred to the silent auction as an overwhelming success.”I’ve always known you could do whatever you wanted in this town, I just didn’t know you could do whatever you wanted in 10 days,” said Aspen City Councilman Jack Johnson, who spearheaded the organization of Fat Tuesday. “And it was virtually glitch-free.”Half of the money collected during Fat Tuesday will go to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to help settle evacuees in that area and around New Orleans. The Aspen Community Foundation is overseeing the distribution, said Sharyn Goodson, the nonprofit’s program officer.Apart from Fat Tuesday, the local community foundation has also raised $86,000 in donations from valley residents that will go to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Goodson said.The other half of Fat Tuesday donations will stay in the Roaring Fork Valley and is earmarked to assist evacuees from the South who need a helping hand in their relocation to this area. Johnson proposed that the city consider sponsoring a community in the South if people who relocate to the Roaring Fork Valley don’t need as much assistance as originally thought.Carbondale officials have adopted the community of Pearlington, Miss., to provide aid directly to the small town, Johnson noted. He also said he’ll ask the City Council if it would consider waiving the city’s 2.9 percent sales tax on the silent-auction items.He noted that the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation has provided a phone number, 544-5545, that evacuees can call to get information on resources for local assistance.Next, Johnson said, he’d like to help organize an educational event that would collect donations for hurricane relief – Aspen Filmfest may screen a documentary about the New Orleans area, and if that occurs, Johnson said he’ll get the word out through local newspapers.GrassRoots TV Channel 12 will air a 40-minute program of footage from Aspen’s Fat Tuesday through next week. The program is scheduled to run at 3 p.m. Monday; 1:30 and 6 p.m. Tuesday; 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Wednesday; and 10 p.m. Sept. 24. Brad Manosevitz, who works at the station, said a fall fund-raising drive for the station was planned for this week but canceled in favor of supporting Aspen Hurricane Relief Week.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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