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Ellicott City: Get your mask on to celebrate Mardi Gras in the historic district

Celebrate Mardi Gras in the historic district! The Ellicott City Restoration Foundation will host it's seventh annual Mardi Gras Magnifique benefit Sunday, Feb. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Rumor Mill Fusion Bar & Restaurant. Enjoy a New Orleans "Big Easy" style, seated three course lunch created by The Rumor Mills' chef Matthew Milani (who was trained in the style of New Orleans' Chef Paul Prudhomme) and music from the Cypress Trio Cajun Band.

Tickets are $40 in advance and can be purchased online at http://www.ecrestoration.org or by visiting the Howard County Tourism Welcome Center at 8267 Main St. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation's programs to enhance and preserve the Ellicott City Historic District.

Remember a few weeks ago I wrote about 13-year-old Tyler McVicker, the kid who swam in the frigid waters of the Chesapeake as a member of the Owen United team for the annual Polar Bear Plunge? Here's an update: The Owen United team raised more than $20,000 for Special Olympics, qualifying them for sixth place among more than 1,000 teams that participated in the event.

The Owen United team is named in honor of 5-year-old Owen Reynolds, the son of Ian and Stephanie Reynolds, who has Down syndrome. Owen's 12-year-old brother, Gavin, and Tyler are Soccer Association of Columbia teammates and friends.

Gavin and Tyler's friendship on the soccer field lead to the entire McVicker's family involvement in the Polar Bear Plunge including Tyler's 11-year-old sister, Courtney. In the past two years, the McVicker family has raised $2,760 for Special Olympics Maryland as members of Owen United.

"We are extremely fortunate to have them as friends of our family," Ian Reynolds said.

This year, 83 Reynolds family, friends and neighbors participated on the Owen United team either as plungers or fundraisers. Of this group, 48 members were children ranging in age from 7 to 17 including the Reynold's middle son, 9-year-old Trevor.

".....we are extremely proud and touched to have so many conscientious young people on the team willing to help an important cause. They accept Owen openly and warmly and do not treat him as 'different', Ian Reynolds said.

Although the Polar Bear plunge is over, donations are still being accepted. If you would like to contribute to Special Olympics go to the Owen United pledge page at http://www.plunge2012.kintera.org/owenunited.

Calling all thespians! Silhouette Stages has announced auditions for its spring production of "Company," the Tony award winning musical that was recently been revived in New York starring Neil Patrick Harris as Bobby. Auditions at Columbia's Slayton House are set for Friday, Feb 17, 7-9 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. with callbacks Sunday, Feb 19 at 1:30 p.m., if needed.

Prepare 16 to 24 bars of music suitable to a Sondheim production that showcases your voice/range (preferably not from the show) and both an up-tempo piece and a ballad. Bring piano sheet music if necessary and be prepared to cold read from the script and possibly light movement. All parts are open.

Performance dates are: May 11-13 and 18-20 in Columbia. For additional information, email Mo Dutterer at mo@silhouettestages.com or go to the Silhouette Stages website at http://www.silhouettestages.com.

Today, Thursday, Feb. 16 is the last day to make a reservation for the Hawaiian Luau community party, set for March 3 at Dorsey's Search's Linden Hall. The party starts at 5 p.m. and is free to each Dorsey's Search resident who brings a non-perishable food item and $8 for each nonresident.

Enjoy Hawaiian music, learn the meaning of Hula and taste tropical foods. For more information, call 410-730-4005.

Watch your step! The county has begun improvements to Centennial Park pathways. The construction project will replace sections of the four mile pathway system surrounding the 25 year-old Centennial Lake park that have been damaged due to standing water and drainage issues. Targeted areas include the west area of the park below the basketball courts and a section located between the west and north areas of the park.

The improvements will eliminate and curtail standing water, icy buildups and deterioration on pathways for the more than 1 million guests who visit each year. Look for signage that will indicate construction areas, closed pathways and detours.

The project is expected to be complete by March 1. Please note some areas, at times because of construction work, might be closed and bikers, runner and walkers may need to alter their course.

For more information, call Centennial Park Manager Steve Schwarzman at 410-313-7271 or email sschwarzman@howardcountymd.gov.

This week's installment of the new Miller Branch "Library Finds" — Did you know the library boasts a 32-seat café? Located adjacent to the front lobby, the cafe has a loungey feel with variety of sitting areas and two wide-screen TV's. Three vending machines dispense an eclectic mix of snacks and both cold and hot drinks including sodas, Fritos, organic beverages, French Vanilla Mocha coffee and healthy trail mix.

Lastly, here's a chance to stroll around the library after hours. The Miller Branch will host the 2012 Evening in the Stacks: Masquerade party Feb. 25 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. The evening includes Big Band and Swing sounds from The Natty Beaux band, delicious foods, celebrity bartenders and best-selling author Lisa See with Ron Charles of The Washington Post.

Cocktail attire with masks and black tie optional. Purchase tickets ($125 per person) online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/218316 or call 410-313-7750. Proceeds benefit the Library's educational initiatives, including A+ Partners in Education and Project Literacy.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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