No matter how you slice the King Cake, nobody knows how to party it up like a New Orleanian. And London Rosiere, founder of Camp SoulGrow in Montauk, brings a taste of her hometown to The End on Saturday, March 2, when the nonprofit hosts its fifth annual “Mardi Gras in Montauk” at the Shagwong Tavern.
“Being born and raised in New Orleans and displaced by Katrina, then losing my mother and moving to Montauk, I started Camp SoulGrow to help children connect with the goodness that is inside of them,” said Rosiere. “Camp SoulGrow offers pressure-free opportunities for kids to try new things and meet friends beyond their demographics, to connect with their community and feel accepted and supported, and most important, to help grow their self-esteem. When I started Camp SoulGrow I used the money my mother left me and ran 11 workshops in the summer of 2014. Summer had ended and I decided to stay in Montauk year-round and build Camp SoulGrow into a non-profit that people in the community could all be a part of.”
A $25 wristband allows all adults to enjoy unlimited Cajun food like crawfish (don’t forget to “suck the head”), gumbo, fried chicken, jambalaya, and more, plus authentic King Cakes provided by Manny Randazzo’s of New Orleans, and unlimited beer courtesy of the Montauk Brewing Company. “The cycle of giving and sharing, truly is ‘soul grow’ on both ends,” said Rosiere.
“Being that the workshops and events we host are donation-operated, I knew I needed to throw a fundraiser and start raising money to offer more. I thought how perfect it would be to throw a Mardi Gras party, because of my New Orleans roots, and because of how fun it would be to spice up the winter, especially for the year-round locals. I wanted to keep the cost down and offer as much as possible, make it as authentic to Mardi Gras in New Orleans as possible, so the idea of flying in crawfish to boil, having King Cakes, a Southern buffet, limitless beer on tap, live music, and authentic carnival decorations and throws was what we did.”
In addition, there will be auction prizes (and if you want to donate an item, contact Rosiere as soon as possible). The authentic “N’awlins” trinkets and beads associated with Mardi Gras will have partygoers yelling “Throw me something, mister!” Montauk artist Peter Spacek created the event’s poster, which is added to each year.
Since its founding in July 2014, the camp has opened three locations, bought and painted a 23-passenger bus, conducted more than 585 workshops, and helped over 900 children disengage from technology, giving them the opportunity to experience healthy and fun activities that help them discover new passions, gain confidence, inspire hope, meet new friends, and feel united with their community.
“It truly is a special night for the town, for the camp, and for me personally,” Rosiere said. “See y’all on Fat Tuesday.” Laissez les bon temps rouler!
To find out more, visit www.CampSoulGrow.org.