Newlywed actors Ian Somerhalder (“Vampire Diaries”) and Nikki Reed (“Twilight”) have been announced as this year’s Celebrity Grand Monarchs of Mandeville’s annual parade of dolled-up pooches, Mardi Paws.
As usual, the foot-and-paw march along the Mandeville Lakefront will happen several days after the close of the “official” Mardi Gras season. This year’s parade is scheduled for February 14, Valentine’s Day.
Both actors profess a love for animals, and Louisiana native Somerhalder maintains an active involvement with the north shore community where he was raised. He grew up in Covington and is a graduate of St. Paul’s School.
Mystic Krewe of Mardi Paws Captain Denise Gutnisky hopes Somerhalder’s charity will someday call this popular carnival-season puppy its own. Gutnisky sees a near future where she is “passing the baton” to the “Vampire Diaries” and “Lost” actor and his Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF), which focuses on animal welfare and environmental issues.
“The parade is a perfect fit for Ian’s foundation,” Gutnisky said, adding that future plans of the ISF may involve bringing Mardi Paws parades to locations “around the world.”
Although Gutnisky said final decisions have not been made, the canine carnival royalty of Mardi Paws being in the hands of tinseltown royalty starting in 2017 isn’t much of a stretch.
“The parade’s main beneficiary will be ISF, and the hope is to make it a permanent partnership to support his (Somerhalder’s) vision of his sanctuary on the north shore,” Gutnisky said.
In late 2014, the actor’s foundation purchased 100 acres of land, situated near the Lacombe/Mandeville border. Gutnisky said Somerhalder plans to preserve just under 70 acres and use approximately 30 acres for support of “the creature population, youth, and other community needs.”
The ISF website features a video of the actor walking among the cypress knees and mossy oak trees of his new property, and paddling a boat through a murky St. Tammany bayou.