Royal revelers, get out your purple, gold and green and help Habitat for Humanity Cabarrus County celebrate its Mardi Gras Gala.
In honor of the Feb. 18 fundraising event, four area residents are competing for the title of Mardi Gras Jester.
The public can help raise money for Habitat Cabarrus and vote for their favorite online for $1 per vote. Go to www.habitatcabarrus.org, then to the "Donate" tab. Under "Gift Designation," indicate who gets your vote.
Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity International has built more than 500,000 homes and helped more than two million people nationally. Its local affiliate, Habitat Cabarrus, chartered in 1989, has served area families for more than 20 years.
Meet the jesters
Sherman Greer, 31, lives in Locust and has worked in Concord for two years. This is his first time participating in any sort of Habitat Cabarrus event.
To him, a jester needs to be entertaining, happy and a little mysterious. But Greer has something no other jester has.
"I may be the tallest Jester ever," said Greer. "And my costume was handmade by a local seamstress."
Asked to help by a friend, he said, he quickly got on board to highlight work of a local organization.
"It's for a great cause, and, hopefully, more homes for the partner families will come out of it," said Greer. "There are amazing people behind the face of this organization that provide families with homes they wouldn't otherwise have."
Misty Moler, 37, has lived in Concord since 2002. She was born and raised near Chattanooga, Tenn.
Her employer, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, partners with Habitat Cabarrus for a service project at least once a year.
Moler said she put her hat in the ring because she's always up for some friendly competition.
"Throw in a little creativity and a fun group, and the question becomes 'Why not suit up?' " she said.
To her, a good jester should be full of smiles while entertaining others.
"I think people should throw their vote my way because my costume is the most creative," said Moler. "My cowgirl jester uniform is topped off with a festive cowgirl hat, boots, a holster, and I have pep in my step."
She also knows when to get serious.
"All kidding aside, (Habitat) directly affects the lives of those most in need, and they are doing it right here in our own community," said Moler. "It will be a wonderful night of fellowship, fun and awareness for a cause that helps our community."
Dana Ritchie lives in Cabarrus County and is originally from Georgia, where Habitat was founded. Ritchie joked that she has been 29 for several years, but she's serious when it comes to knowing Habitat history.
"Habitat began in 1976 and still has its headquarters in Georgia," said Ritchie. "The story behind its origin is very interesting. Started by Millard and Linda Fuller; Millard was a self-made millionaire by 29. However, his health, integrity and marriage had suffered in his quest for success.
"He did some soul searching and renewed his commitment to his wife and to God. They then took a very drastic step, sold all their possessions and gave the money to the poor while they searched for a new focus in life. It was then they became involved with a ministry in the Americus (Ga.) area, where Habitat was born."
Ritchie said a good jester should entertain with music, juggling, clowning and telling riddles.
"I'm working on all this," she said.
Jerry Talbert, 64, lives in Albemarle and owns J. Talbert's Limited of Concord on Union Street. He also joined the effort at the request of a friend.
"I want to give back to the community," he said. "These are hard-working, caring people, and it's a great cause."
Talbert said a jester must be fun-loving, yet serious when it counts. While he fits that description, he said, there's a different reason to vote for him.
"Because I'm the best dancer," he said.