Winter warming up with Selbyville library Mardi Gras fundraiser

The excitement of New Orleans will swing through Sussex County at the 2020 Mardi Gras Benefit on Saturday, Feb. 8, hosted by the Friends of the Selbyville Public Library.

Guests will party at the library after hours, from 6 to 9 p.m. Many have joined the tradition of dressing up, even bringing beads, masks and feather boas.

“We do our best to make the library appear like you’re on Bourbon Street. We’ve got good food and atmosphere and drinks [for] a good time in Selbyville,” said Friends president David Nilsson. “We’d love for everybody to join us and help us support the Selbyville Public Library.”

Admission includes a buffet, silent auction, cash bar and live music by local jazz group Notes on the Beach. MAC’s Catering will prepare a Cajun-style buffet with gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice, as well as a king cake with the prize-winning baby figurine inside.

“We have great silent-auction items. We have a number of baskets, gift cards, artwork from different people … a chocolate basket, a basket of cheer,” said Nilsson. “We do try to throw in a little curve every now and then,” such as with a jar-of-beads guessing contest.

Guests can pose for photos with a painted cutout board, and everyone will go home with a small thank-you gift.

“We’re looking forward to selling out again, which we’ve done, and we’re looking forward to a good time,” said Nilsson, estimating that last year’s Mardi Gras event netted $7,000.

“It is a fun evening, and we really appreciate everything the Friends do to support our programming,” said Library Director Kelly Kline. “Not everyone knows that our programs are funded by the Friends.”

“This is the 35th anniversary of the Friends of the Selbyville Public Library,” Nilsson said. “We have been successful in the past in fundraising for the library. In fact … the Friends have supported all the children’s and adult programming over… I’m going to say the last five years. We are proud that we can almost self-support the library in that regard.”

The Friends’ other major fundraiser is the annual appeal mailed to the 19975 ZIP code, which garners more than 150 responses each holiday season.

A major expansion is expected at the library, currently housed in the historic 1905 Townsend house. Design for the project has begun, and the library has been conditionally approved to receive up to $3.68 million matching grant from the State of Delaware, depending on the results of this year’s legislative bond bill. The Friends will help support that capital project, too.

This rural library is “one of the pillars of the community, and we’re looking forward to expand it and make it a bigger community resources,” Nilsson said.

The Mardi Gras Benefit lets people have a good time while supporting their library.

As a courtesy, Mardi Gras tickets should be purchased by Feb. 1. Tickets can be purchased for $35 at the library (cash or check). If needed, tickets can be reserved by emailing Credit cards will also be accepted that night.

The Selbyville Public Library is located at 11 Main Street, at McCabe Street, in downtown Selbyville.

Details are available by calling (302) 436-8195, online at ( or on Facebook (

Donations and sponsorship checks can be mailed to Friends of the Selbyville Public Library; P.O. Box 31; Selbyville, DE 19975.

“We’ll be very appreciative of anything anyone would like to donate,” Nilsson said.

The library also benefits from online sales through the Amazon Smile program (


By Laura Walter
Staff Reporter