Scarpa estimated that around 100 performers and volunteers were involved in the event, giving up to 20 hours of their time to ensure everything ran smoothly.
Homemade Italian food and a raffle to win a week’s stay in an Italian villa were also on the agenda.
The theater was decorated for the occasion, and volunteers wore traditional Carnival attire, with guests encouraged to wear costumes as well.
Marilyn Penrod, an artist, designed the costumes for the event in her studio alongside five other volunteers.
Inspiration for the costumes was drawn from Scarpa’s childhood memories.
The design team handmade 12 intricate designs in two weeks, relying on thrift stores and donations for materials.
“We used secondhand gowns and curtains and added lots of embellishment and trim to produce dresses, masks and cloaks,” Penrod said.
She said the Venetian Carnival costumes are much more elaborate and regal than those at other European Carnival celebrations.
She said only one of the volunteers had any previous costume-making experience.
Scarpa said she hoped the fundraiser would become a signature annual event for the refuge.
The Pittsboro-based charity has to raise $20,000 per month to maintain itself, said UNC philosophy professor Mariska Leunissen, who volunteered at Saturday’s event.
The refuge is funded by a combination of donations, fundraising events and profits from Scarpa’s pottery business.
Scarpa established the refuge as an alternative to the 20 kill shelters still operating in North Carolina.
Leunissen said the organization and other efforts to highlight animal mistreatment are worthy causes.
“The more cats Siglinda can rescue, the more get pulled out of high-kill shelters,” Leunissen said.
“It will hopefully help change people’s attitudes toward animals. Pets are seen as an accessory that can just be dumped after a while.”
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