WOONSOCKET — The Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts (NRICA) had its Mardi Gras Ball Saturday night.


Held at St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center, the Mardi Gras revelers were treated to a full Cajun, Creole and French-Canadian buffet, prepared by event Co-Chair Wally Rathbun with assistance from Roland and Judy Beauchemin of Missy’s Family Restaurant. Boston-based Cajun and zydeco band Squeezebox Stompers kept the party going all night.


Emcees for the event were Sharon Charette, President of the Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts and Dominique Doiron, Executive Director of St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center and King Jace for 2020. Mardi Gras Co-Chairs Marlene Gagnon and Wally Rathbun and Queen’s Coronation Co-Chairs Tammy Irwin and Barbara Ozanian were on hand to oversee the event.


A key part of the evening is the presentation of the Queen and the Royal Court who preside over the Ball. The title of Queen is earned by the contestant who sells the most raffle, ball, and coronation tickets. This year, the title of Queen of Mardi Gras for 2023 was earned by Tabitha Westerhuis. The court included King Jace the XXVIIIth, Adam Brunetti, First Princess Cynthia Henderson, Second Princess Geraldine Barclay-King, and Third Princess Tonya Sawtelle. The new Mardi Gras Queen and princesses were crowned last week at Savini’s Pomodoro Restaurant.

This year, the Mardi Gras Committee decided to add a couple of surprise changes to the way the Royal Court is formed. Through the committee’s “No Princess Left Behind Act of 2023,” all contestants will be named princesses in the order of the amount of their ticket sales.

The second surprise of the evening was that last year’s Queen Desiree Archambault, this year’s Queen Tabitha Westerhuis and all princesses were called upon to choose their own princes of Mardi Gras.

The proceeds from the Queen’s Coronation and the Mardi Gras Ball help the Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts ensure the success of Mardi Gras for future generations and help fund the NRICA’s arts scholarships.


For complete biographies of the queen and her court and for more information and updates, visit