Hunger never takes a holiday, but after Christmas, donations of food and money to food pantries can dry up. What better way to counter this, than to have people bring groceries and their wallets to a celebration of Fat Tuesday? That’s why the Satellite Rotary Club of Forest Park is holding a Mardi Gras bash at Healy’s on Feb. 9.

The family-friendly event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests can pay $40 at the door for food, drinks and fun. Or they can bring a bag of non-perishable food and pay $20 to get in. All the food and funds will go to re-stock the shelves of the Forest Park Food Pantry. 

“We’re a brand new presence in Forest Park,” said Rotarian Jerry Lordan. “We wanted to have an event to bring the public in contact with Rotary. And, as far as I know, there’s never been a Mardi Gras party in Forest Park.” Healy’s is a natural site to host the party, as Rotary meets there on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of every month at 6:30 p.m.

Healy’s owner, Mark Hosty, is also a founding member of the Forest Park satellite. 

“We want to do things for the community, not just write checks,” Hosty said. “We just had a very successful coat drive for veterans.” He said fellow Rotary member, Village Commissioner Tom Mannix, came up with the idea for the party. 

“It’s a way for people to have fun,” Hosty added, “and there’s a lot of needy families in Forest Park.”

It helps that Healy’s chef has a great recipe for jambalaya and the bar will be serving Hurricanes. There’s going to be zydeco music and Cajun fiddling piped into the place. It will also be one of the few opportunities to participate in a crawfish toss. The plan is to have contestants toss a rubber crawfish into a bucket of ice, increasing the distance each round. 

Lordan said guests are encouraged to embrace the Mardi Gras spirit by wearing masks or costumes. 

“We’re going to have beads they can purchase with a donation to the Food Pantry,” he said, “but no flashing.” More seriously, Lordan spoke of how Rotary’s million members worldwide are tackling four major problems.

“Their goals are to eliminate polio, achieve universal literacy, provide universal access to clean water and promote peace.” However, local groups can adopt their own causes to support.

“Planning the Mardi Gras event was a collaborative effort among the members,” Mannix said. “We wanted to provide food music and games, but we didn’t want the ticket prices to be too onerous. Mark gave us an exceptional offer to host it. 

“There are families in our community who are hurting. They’re having trouble putting three squares on the table.

“We’d love to have families there,” Mannix continued. “God willing, this could become a beloved, signature event for Rotary. Fat Tuesday is perfect timing. If we do this right, no family should go hungry.” 

 Healy’s Westside is located at 7321 Madison St. Call 708-366-4277 for more information.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.