Charleston’s annual Carnaval is just around the corner

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – For a decade, Charleston’s annual gala, Carnaval, has been wowing guests who walk through the doors of the Clay Center.

Known for its lavish decor, those behind the scenes spend countless hours transforming the many rooms of the Clay Center, bringing the party’s themes to life.

“It is really just a transformation of walking through different spaces and enjoying entertainment and the food and drinks, said Co-chair, Dr. Jaqueline Stump. “Just enjoying yourself!”

Stump said previous themes took guests through whimsical worlds or a journey back in time.

“It originally started with Carnaval Rio, then it went to a mascarade in New Orleans style, then we kind of switched gears and went to Carnaval Unplugged which was different types of music.” Other elaborate themes include Supernova and Kaleidoscope.

This year, organizers are eagerly anticipating the event’s 10th year of partying with a purpose on Saturday, February 1, 2020. R. Jerry Comer paints the picture: “When you walk in this year, with our theme being Carnaval X/Greco Roman theme, you can expect to kind of be taken back to Grecian times!”

And speaking of going “back in time,” some may be surprised to know that before there was the Friends of the Clay Center, there was the group, Friends of Sun Rise. As part of their fundraising efforts, they started a party called Fidelio.

”It was a combination of Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras. And we would find empty properties in town and throw this sort of traveling party,” Stewart said.

Jeff Stewart is one of the original members of Friends of Sunrise. After a view years of travel, Fidelio would find a permanent home at the Clay Center and become the party with a purpose we know today as Carnaval.

“There’s a lot of energy, it’s amazing what it’s become, there’s a sense of pride,” Stewart said.

While the much-anticipated event is indeed a party with a purpose, organizers say their main goal is supporting the arts and STEM for years to come.

“For us, this is a huge fundraiser for the Clay Center and for the Charleston Ballet as a whole,” said Stump.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased on the Clay Center’s website.

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