Marie Antoinette gets royal treatment at Marietta celebrations

Photo by Michael Kelly A likeness of Marie Antoinette in cake sits in the center of Green Acres on Front Street as shoppers browse the stores during the First Fridays event.

MARIETTA — As the music and lights came on for the Family Ball at the Betsey Mills Club, a few blocks away people were turning out for the First Fridays event at downtown merchants.

While children — and adults — whirled around the dance floor in period costume, shoppers had Christmas gifts on their minds Friday.

Trisha Miller was welcoming guests at the John Rossi Art store on Front Street. She said First Fridays is a boon for both locals and visitors.

“We’re happy to stay open to bring people downtown,” she said. “It’s enjoyable for people coming to town. A little while ago we had two ladies come in who are from out of town and staying across the street at the Lafayette.”

Down Front Street at the Green Acres store, Kenneth Brown and his daughter Christina were looking at a sidewalk display of prints and calendars by Marietta artist Bruce Wunderlich, who Brown, a pastor at Marietta Community Church, called “a local treasure.”

Photo by Michael Kelly Marie Antoinette (Mara Capati) sits with children in full court dress for a photo at the Family Ball held Friday night in the Betsey Mills Club as part of the Marie Antoinette Festival.

Inside, crowds milled through the store’s eclectic goods as Allie Danner and store owner Jennifer Sturgill offered assistance. In the center of the store, a cake in the likeness of Marie Antoinette, in whose honor the city is holding a three-day celebration this weekend, seemed to stare with resignation at the ceiling.

The First Fridays theme was Cake Walk, from Marie’s saying, “Let them eat cake,” and participating merchants were selling raffle tickets for several specialty cakes put together for the occasion.

“A lot of people don’t get it until you explain it, but then they’re into it,” Danner said.

Nathan Long and Missy Hearn, both in town from Fleming, were in the store. Long said they might buy some cake tickets, but they were mainly in town as First Fridays regulars.

“We walk through the shops and sometimes see people we haven’t talked to for a while,” he said.

Outside The Cook’s Shop, Jon Coppernoll of Marietta waited for his wife, Cathy, to emerge from the store.

“She’s looking for some Christmas ideas,” he said.

Inside the store, crowded with people, specialty foods, pots and pans and kitchen gear, owner Dagmar Kupschke confirmed that holiday shopping is underway.

“It started about a week ago,” she said.

At the Betsey Mills Club, about 50 people in full French court costume whirled around the gymnasium floor, talking to one another through masks, laughing and adjusting spectacular hair-dos and pieces of complex gowns and jackets. It was the first Family Ball held during the Marie Antoinette Festival and included photos with the queen, cupcake decorating, face painting, a tea party, silent auction and, later in the evening, a teen dance party with a DJ.

Organizer Cat Bigley said she planned the evening in phases, with small children arriving first and teens coming in later for the dance.

“It’s going well,” she said.

Marie Antoinette for the evening was actress Mara Capati. She said getting into costume took about an hour and a half. The seamstress who made it, Robin Parsons, put at least 40 hours of work into the project, she said.

“Bless my costumer,” Capati said.

She swept across the floor to a set of French provincial chairs and a loveseat to pose for pictures with children transported for an evening into another age.

The premiere event of the weekend, the fourth annual Marie Antoinette Masquerade Ball, will be held tonight.