“Confetti in the air, beads around our necks, and joy in our hearts: Capturing the magic of Mardi Gras 2024, one Tiny Camper Photobooth pic at a time! 🎉✨ #MardiGrasMagic #SquadGoals” (Photo by Rebecca Wilcox Bilbrey)

In the heart of the Smoky Mountains, the town of Franklin, North Carolina, came alive with the vibrant spirit of Mardi Gras. This wasn’t just any Mardi Gras celebration; it was a festive gathering with a heartfelt mission—to support Reach of Macon County, a beacon of hope for those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. This year’s event was nothing short of magical, raising over an impressive $30,000 to aid in their vital services. Follow 828Vibes on Instagram.

A Night of Festivities, A Lifetime of Impact

5 of the 6 competing King and Queen couples. Photo by Kathryn Elizabeth Wright

The 7th Annual Mardi Gras Event in Franklin was a colorful testament to the power of community and celebration. With six spirited teams competing for the coveted titles of King and Queen of Mardi Gras, the event was a dazzling display of creativity, camaraderie, and commitment to a cause that touches many lives. Learn more about each of the six teams.

mardi gras franklin nc reach of macon county

Photo by Adrienne Harlfinger

At the heart of the celebration, JR Chophouse unveiled a dazzling New Orleans-themed dinner menu that left guests raving. The evening’s culinary journey began with the irresistible French Quarter Cheese Dip, enriched with toasted pecans and served with crisp crackers. Main dishes like the Creole Spiced Rotisserie “Sticky Chicken” and the Blackened Red Fish with Cajun Tartar brought the vibrant flavors of New Orleans to life, each bite a testament to the city’s rich culinary heritage. The feast was rounded off with a divine Bourbon Brioche Bread Pudding, its lush vanilla bean whipped cream adding a touch of sweetness to the evening’s festive atmosphere. This curated selection of dishes showcased the best of New Orleans cuisine, making the Mardi Gras event an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

Locate Places to Eat and Sleep in The NC Smoky Mountains

As the evening unfolded, guests were treated to the immersive tunes of DJ Dusk Till Dawn, whose music selection had everyone on their feet dancing the night away. The atmosphere was electrified with every beat, creating a modern twist on the traditional Mardi Gras vibe. The decorations, a whirlwind of green, purple, and gold, transformed the venue into a Mardi Gras dream, setting the scene for a night to remember.

Debra and I enjoying Mardi Gras in Franklin with a bunch of our friends. Photo by 828Vibes

Debra and I enjoying Mardi Gras in Franklin with a bunch of our friends. Photo by 828Vibes

The Crowning Achievement

Ashleigh Holland and Brinkley Culpepper, the 2024 King and Queen. Photo by Lindsay Wright

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the competition for the titles of Mardi Gras King and Queen. Six teams pulled out all the stops to rally support for Reach of Macon County. Their engaging online fundraising social posts reminded everyone of the night’s true purpose—coming together to make a difference in the lives of those in need.
When the moment of truth arrived, the anticipation in the room was palpable. Amidst cheers and drumrolls, Ashleigh Holland and Brinkley Culpepper were crowned the King and Queen of the 7th Annual Mardi Gras Event. Their victory was a celebration of their achievement and the collective triumph of a community united for a noble cause.

Beyond the Beads and Glitter

What set this Mardi Gras celebration apart was its profound impact on the community it aimed to support. The incredible sum of over $30,000 raised is a testament to the generosity and spirit of the people of Franklin and the surrounding areas. These funds will go a long way in supporting Reach of Macon County’s mission to provide safety, shelter, and assistance to those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.

To Ashleigh, Brinkley, and all who participated, donated, and cheered—thank you. Your generosity and spirit have made a difference. As the Mardi Gras beads are put away and the music fades into memory, the legacy of this event will continue to shine brightly in the hearts of those it has helped.

Here’s to the magic of Mardi Gras in the mountains and the enduring power of community. Laissez les bon temps rouler—let the good times roll, until we meet again next year under the festive banners of Mardi Gras for a cause that continues to inspire and uplift us all.

Want to support Reach of Macon County? Visit their website at https://www.reachofmaconcounty.org/


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