According to the Galveston Times, money is needed in order to bring Quaker City String Band back to Galveston Tx. for Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras Galveston is less than a month away, which means Cathy Conlon-Townsend is a nervous woman.
She is the force behind the effort that brings the Quaker City String Band — known around here as the Mummers — to Mardi Gras each year. Each year Conlon-Townsend collects the money needed to bring the Mummers to town for Mardi Gras’ big weekend.
It is an effort she’s happily taken on for most of the 29 years the Quaker City String Band has been a fixture of Mardi Gras.
In the early years, George Mitchell footed the bill, and then other corporate sponsors such as Landry’s owner Tilman Fertitta joined in.
The Park Board of Trustees contribute for awhile, but, as the years went on, less and less support came from business sponsors.
So, Conlon-Townsend picked up the ball to get the rest of the money. She holds fundraisers, takes donations and raffles off a Mummers suit to raise the money.
It gets tight, but each year she is able to pull it off.
Last year, after the death of Mitchell, Mardi Gras Galveston’s Founding Father, the Mummers tradition looked to be at risk. Conlon-Townsend came up about $18,000 short.
Then Craig Eiland, the county’s now-former state representative, stepped in with the money needed.
Funds cover the group’s transportation, lodging and meals. Bobby Shannon, the Quaker City String Band’s longtime leader, is set to be the Grand Marshal for this year’s Knights of Momus Parade on Feb. 14.
“These guys are such a special part of Mardi Gras,” Conlon-Townsend said. “I think of them as family. So many people tell me it would not be Mardi Gras without the Mummers.”
Indeed, after Hurricane Ike ravaged the island, Shannon and other members of the Quaker City String Band called to check on Conlon-Townsend and other friends in Galveston and offered to help everyone recover.
Five months later the Mummers returned and brought some cheer to a community recovering from the hurricane’s detestation.
As Shannon and the band marched up the driveway of The Hotel Galvez, Conlon-Townsend was there to greet them.
“Their return signaled to me that Galveston would also come back stronger than ever after the hurricane,” she said.
Once again Conlon-Townsend is soliciting funds to make sure the Mummers return, but her efforts are behind. That’s because her husband, Tommy Townsend, had a stroke a few days before Christmas.
He is recovering at a rehabilitation center in Texas City. So, Conlon-Townsend has had her hands full taking caring for him while running her catering business.
As a result, there’s about $15,000 to $20,000 left to collect to ensure the Mummers return. It costs more than $35,000 to cover the Mummers tab.
Conlon-Townsend raised money from the Knights of Momus, Fertitta and other benefactors. Eiland has agreed to help out again with a donation, but wants more people who enjoy the Mummers to do their part before he writes a check.
As an incentive to those who want to make the tax-deductible donation, anyone who donates $250 to the cause gets a pass to attend Eiland’s Mardi Gras party on Feb. 13 in the entertainment district downtown.