By Julie Muhlstein Herald columnist
As fictional characters go, they’re different as can be. Miss Havisham is the heartbroken old recluse of “Great Expectations,” stuck in her mansion wearing the ratty wedding dress she put on the day she was jilted. Sissy Hankshaw, the wildly uninhibited heroine of “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,” is blessed with outsized thumbs, which she uses to hitchhike.
On Saturday night, the Everett Public Library will host “Stranger Than Fiction,” a fundraiser to help support summer reading book prizes and other library projects. The 18-and-older party starts at 7 p.m.
Along with food from Everett restaurants, drinks, coffee, and music by the Wild Snohomians, the pre-Mardi Gras gala will feature a costume contest. Guests are asked — not required — to show up dressed as favorite authors or book characters.
I’m not saying I have the nerve to appear anywhere as Charles Dickens’ Miss Havisham — never mind the freewheeling Sissy Hankshaw, an invention of La Conner author Tom Robbins. Those two ladies of literature just happened to be the first that came to mind when I learned about “Stranger Than Fiction.” Costumes in their honor would be distinct anyway.
It’s an amusing exercise, to think of characters that might be fun to impersonate.
For Everett Public Library Director Eileen Simmons, the choice is made. She plans to dress up as Amelia Bedelia, the comical maid in a series of children’s books. “I enjoyed reading those books to my son when he was little,” Simmons said Monday.
Kate Mossman, the library’s assistant director, hadn’t decided Tuesday what her costume will be. She has heard that one library board member is coming with “a cadre of people” dressed as characters from the Harry Potter books.
A string quartet has been heard before in the library, but a rock band will be a first. The Wild Snohomians, a local band that blends rockabilly, surf, rock, blues, country and folk, will liven things up in the library’s massive main-floor reading room. All who dare will be welcome to dance.
The band has played at the Everett Waterfront Concert Series and at venues around the region. Party-goers might catch a glimpse of Hunter S. Thompson if band member Van Ramsey decides to impersonate the late author and gonzo journalist. “If I go as Hunter S. Thompson, that wouldn’t be a stretch for my summer wardrobe,” said Ramsey, a vocalist, songwriter and organ player with the band. He also works at the library.
The gala is new this year. It replaces the Spelldown spelling bee, a Friends of the Everett Public Library fundraiser held the past few years at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
“Most people who had a strong desire to get up and spell had experienced that. So we did a little brainstorming,” Simmons said. A costume party for the week leading up to Mardi Gras was the winning idea.
Tickets, available online or at the door, are $10. But gold, silver or bronze-level supporters will donate $100, $50 or $25. “We’re hoping people will pay a little more,” Simmons said.
She is grateful that one generous donor has pledged a lot more. Asking to remain anonymous, that donor will match up to $3,500 donations received Saturday. “We’re totally thrilled,” Simmons said. Along with the friends charitable group, event sponsors include the Anderson Hunter law firm, the Dykeman architectural firm, Moss Adams LLP, Puget Sound Kidney Centers and Alexander Printing Company.
Simmons said the friends group pays for book prizes given to children in the summer reading program. The group has started an endowment fund with the Greater Everett Community Foundation, which will provide ongoing support for summer reading.
A library project to create a quiet space, a need identified by a recent survey of library users, is also in the works, Simmons said. No need to be quiet Saturday, when a cool band and party crowd will rock the place.
Thank me later for that costume idea.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.
Party at the library
“Stranger Than Fiction,” a gala and fundraiser for Friends of the Everett Public Library, will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday in the downtown Everett Public Library, 2702 Hoyt Ave. Guests are invited to dress as a favorite author or book character, but costumes aren’t required. The adults only event features music by The Wild Snohomians, food and drinks, prizes for best costumes, and a cash bar. Proceeds will support summer reading book prizes and other library programs. Tickets are $10 at the door, with larger donations welcome, or online at http://everettlibrary.brownpapertickets.com