This is a running blog of Mardi Gras-related news items from the Mobile area and elsewhere on the Gulf Coast:
Mobile Cadets will be Area's Newest Parading Group May 17, 2013: Mobile has a new men’s parading group called the Mobile Cadets, and it was founded in December by Alan Burns, who also started the Mobile Mystics in 1993. When asked why he was starting another parading group from the ground-up, Burns simply said, “It’s in my blood.” According to Burns, the Cadets will be a Mardi Gras organization, not a mystic society, so secrecy is not required. Members will, however, wear masks when they ride on their floats, Saturday, March 1 at midday, behind the Knights of Mobile. The Cadets will hold a reception for members only after the parade, and the group’s ball will be held after Ash Wednesday on the first Saturday of May every year. “This will be the same day as the Kentucky Derby and will fit in well with our dress code,” Burns said of the ball, which will be held at the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion this year. As for what imagery the group will offer beyond the obvious connections to the military and the Civil War, Burns was a tad coy: “The organization’s objective is to present a parade and ball … that doesn't copy what the traditional mystic societies offer today. One will have to wait for our parade and/or be invited to our inaugural ball to see what we have in order. This will be what's mystic about the Mobile Cadets.” He did say that the organization has hit about 40 percent of its first-year objective of 80 members. Anyone interested in applying for membership can go to mobilecadets.com for information. Specifically, Burns said, the group is targeting younger men for membership, “as these guys have proven throughout the years to be the most energetic and generous with their throws.” The Cadets recently gained membership in the Mobile Mardi Gras Parading Association.
Parading Association Elects New Board April 10, 2013: Jacque Schwartz, president of the Mobile Mardi Gras Parading Association for the last six years, presided over her last meeting tonight as new officers were elected to the board. "We shouldn't forget that there's power in Mardi Gras, that Mardi Gras is a big deal here," Schwartz told members as she bid farewell to a board she served on for 13 years. She pointed to "another big deal" - the arrival of Airbus in Mobile - and told members, "show them that Mardi Gras is a good time" and that they should be involved. Schwarz mentioned the establishment of an Association web site (mmgpa.com) and the use of email to communicate with members as improvements made on her watch. She also said the adoption of a constitution and bylaws was a big step forward for the organization. "I've had a great ride," Schwartz said to a roomful of folks who truly know what a great ride is, "but it's time to move along." The members responded with a prolonged standing ovation for Schwartz. Per the election, the vice president became the president; the treasurer became the vice president; the secretary became the treasurer; the parliamentarian became the secretary; and a newcomer to the board was elected parliamentarian. Each will serve a two-year term and cannot run for re-election to the same position. The Parading Association is made up of representatives of the city's parading and non-parading mystic societies and was formed, according to its constitution, "to provide the city of Mobile with a collective body for the purpose of uniting all mystic societies with equal representation and a collective effort for simplicity and unity." The MMGPA meets nine times per year.
What Else Will Be Going on During Mardi Gras 2014? March 25, 2013: With the announcement that the date for the Oscars has been changed for next year, the Mask thought it would be a good time to figure out what will be going on outside of Mardi Gras land during Carnival 2014. First of all, the Oscars will be held on March 2, 2014, which will be Joe Cain Day here in Mobile. Revelers won't be able to catch all of the red carpet coverage, but they ought to be able to see the parades, grab a pizza on the way home, and still be able to see most of the Oscars (if you're into that kind of thing). The Super Bowl will be held on February 2, 2014, the day after Mobile County's first Carnival parade of the season, the Krewe de la Dauphine on Dauphin Island. The Senior Bowl will be in late January, before any parades get rolling. The biggest competition will come from the 22nd Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia. The opening ceremony will be February 7 (one day before the Island Mystics parade), and the closing ceremony will be February 23, the night that Neptune's Daughters and the Order of Isis are scheduled to parade. Those two ladies' groups can't seem to get a break from big sporting events, as their 2013 parades fell on Super Bowl Sunday. The police department's crowd count on that parading night was less than 10,000. The Conde Cavaliers will parade on Valentine's Day 2014, which will be a Friday. Try getting a table downtown that night.
Final Numbers From Beads-for-Doughnuts Event March 7, 2013: Krispy Kreme's annual Beads for Doughnuts event, which wrapped up Wednesday night, broke all kinds of records this year, according to the Hillcrest store's co-owner, Bob Glidden. In just three days, the store collected 45 large bins of Mardi Gras beads. When the bins were taken to the Mobile school system's warehouse, one of the bins was weighed, and it tipped the scales at 1,820 pounds. Previously, Glidden said the estimate they usually work with is 1,200 pounds per bin. If you meet somewhere in the middle at a nice round 1,500 pounds, it means they collected 67,500 pounds of beads. That would mean that the 5,000 people who brought those beads in brought an average of 13.5 pounds per person. And they walked away with 5,000 certificates, each one good for a dozen glazed doughnuts. Yes, Krispy Kreme gave away 60,000 doughnuts over the three days of the event (that's a total of 12.6 million calories, by the way). The beads are going to Augusta Evans School, where the special-needs students will sort, bundle, and sell the beads back to area mystic societies at lower-than-new prices. The proceeds of those sales will go back into the school.
MOT Band Competition Winners Announced March 6, 2013: Today's announcement of the first-place winner in the Mystics of Time's first-ever Champions of the Street Marching Band Competition brought a close to the contest. And despite the fact that there were some out-of-town bands vying for the prize, all three awards went to Mobile County high school bands. The Blount High School Leopards out of the Eight Mile community came in first, winning $500 and a large trophy. The Satsuma High School Gators came in second, winning $300 and a trophy; and the Baker High School Hornets came in third, winning $200 and a trophy. All three bands have also been invited to participate in the 2014 MOT parade in coveted spots at the head of the parade, which will also make them eligible for the second annual Champions of the Street contest. The competition, which includes the judging of every marching band in the MOT parade, was developed as way to get the bands to step up their performances, according to officials with the Mystics of Time. The judging was done along the parade route on during the February 9 parade by representatives of each participating band. Each judge was given an extensive grading sheet and was instructed to rate each band except their own. Eventually, MOT officials said, it's hoped that the contest will bring only the highest quality bands to the parade. The Mask would like to congratulate this year's winners!
It's Almost Beads-for-Doughnuts Time!
March 1, 2013: OK, all of those Mardi Gras beads have been lying around the house long enough. It's time to pull out the few really cool ones you want to keep, like the big kissy lips thrown to you from a LaShe's float, and put the rest into a bag. If you can put together as much as 12 pounds of beads (it really isn't that hard to do), you can take them to Krispy Kreme (on Hillcrest, near Airport) and trade them in for a coupon good for a dozen glazed doughnuts. This not only means that you get some warm, sweet, doughy goodness, it means that your now-unwanted beads are put to good use. Krispy Kreme will donate the beads to Augusta Evans School, where the special-needs students will sort and bundle them, so they can be sold back to mystic societies, with the proceeds going right back into the school. Then those beads will be thrown again in another parade. It's recycling, it's fund-raising for a good cause, and it's a dozen doughnuts for you to take to the office. Everybody wins. It all starts this Monday, March 4, and only goes through Wednesday, March 6. On those three days, you can take your beads in between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Get some Mardi Gras at History Museum Wednesday
Feb. 4, 2013: So there's no parades this Wednesday ... you can still indulge in some Mardi Gras. Just head to the History Museum of Mobile at lunchtime Wednesday (Feb. 6) for "a special photographic presentation." According to a news release from the museum, "Joaquin Holloway, PhD, a retired University of South Alabama professor, who has been photographing Mardi Gras events in Mobile for decades" will give the Learning Lunch presentation "Scenes I've Seen During the Mobile Carnival Season." The Excelsior Band will add music to the presentation. You'll be able to purchase copies of Excelsior's latest CD, as well as copies of Mobile Mask magazine, before and after Holloway's presentation. It all starts at noon. Bring your lunch, and beverages will be provided. Oh, and it's FREE! The History Museum of Mobile is located at 111 South Royal Street, downtown. If you need more information, contact Daniela Werner at the museum at 251-208-7652 or email@example.com.
MOT Parade Bands Will Compete for Prizes
Jan. 30, 2013: In a move that's meant to "kick band performances up a notch," the Mystics of Time announced this evening that the marching bands in the organization's parade this year will be judged on their performances, and the top three bands will win a trophy, money, and the chance to lead next year's parade. All band directors were told of the contest, and while "a couple balked, and one band dropped out," according to an MOT official, "the vast majority were excited." Each band will designate one person, such as an assistant band director, to stand on the parade route and grade all of the marching bands in the MOT procession, except their own. Bands will be graded on their marching, music, and ability to entertain. The winner of the MOT Champions of the Street Marching Band Competition will receive a trophy (the three trophies are pictured here), $500 cash, and an invitation to lead the 2014 parade. Second place gets $300, and third gets $200, all in addition to the standard band fee. In a news conference held outside the MOT float barns, organization officials said it's their hope that the contest "will improve the quality of our parade by improving the marching bands," keeping them "on top of their game for the entire parade." The MOT members refrained from criticizing any marching bands, but anyone who has attended a number of parades knows that some bands do not seem to play much or play that well. In a few years, one official said, it's hoped that the contest will attract enough top-shelf bands, even from other states, to fill the parade. By the way, the MOT president also promised that this 65th anniversary parade will debut "something else no one has ever seen." He did not elaborate.
MOT's New Throws Will Light Up the Night Jan. 29. 2013: The Mask has gotten a sneak peek at one of the new custom throws that will be flying off Mystics of Time floats, Saturday, February 9. They are plastic foam batons, 15.5 inches long and about as big around as a paper towel tube (see the picture below). They're bendable, and they light up in a variety of colors and patterns. The baton is covered with a clear plastic skin that has MOT, Mystics of Time, 1949, and a dragon printed on it. These will surely be a big hit with kids, and they won't hurt each other much when they decide to smack each other with them. C'mon, you know they will. For years now, MOT has thrown some of the most innovative custom throws in all of Mobile Mardi Gras. Look for them to throw all kinds of cool stuff again this year.
Mystics of Ashland Place Postpone Parade Jan. 28, 2013: The Mystics of Ashland Place, a long-running pre-K Mardi Gras parade, has been postponed due to forecasts for rain on Wednesday, January 30. The parade is now scheduled for Friday, February 1, at 12:30 p.m. The parade will still be led by the Excelsior Band, and the Ashland Gallery will be holding its open house on Friday instead of Wednesday, 11-noon (Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee), and 1-2 p.m. (Dew Drop Inn hot dogs). This is not a big parade, and you won't walk away with a bunch of throws, but it is cuter than that puppies and kittens web site you've been perusing at work. This year's theme is Preschool Activities, and you'll see a bunch of sweet little kids dressed up in adorable costumes, some of them walking, some of them being pulled along by their parents in decorated wagons. Head out to Lanier Avenue in Midtown and get yourself a big dose of cute before the weekend starts!
More Treats: Carnival Cakeballs at Cream & Sugar Jan. 23, 2013: The Mardi Gras treats just keep coming. Cream & Sugar, a lovely cafe in the Oakleigh neighborhood, has pulled out the stops. They're offering a box of cakeballs in SIX Mardi Gras flavors. Boo-yah! Sorry, got carried away there. Anyway, for a mere ten bucks, you can get a box of all six: Cinnamon King Cake, Praline King Cake, Chocolate MoonPie, Banana MoonPie, Joe Cain Red Velvet, and Krewe de Key Lime. Cream & Sugar is located at 351-B George Street, just a little ways down from the Oakleigh Mansion. If you'd like to visit their web site, click here. Go for the cakeballs, but stay for the coffee.
Gigi's Offers Another King Cake Alternative
Jan. 22, 2013: You say you like king cake, but you'd like it even better with 2 inches of cream cheese frosting on top? Gigi's Cupcakes in the Pinebrook Shopping Center has joined other retailers in offering Mobilians king cake in an alternate format. You can get king cake as ice cream (Blue Bell), as a latte (ask for it at any Starbucks), and as a doughnut (see the item below about Krispy Kreme). Now you can get a king cupcake. Gigi's describes it as a "cinnamon-roll cake, our delicious cream cheese frosting, covered in our sugar glaze, and purple, yellow, and green sugar crystals." Unlike the other products mentioned above, each of the Gigi's cupcakes is topped with its own king cake baby. According to Gigi's, the cupcakes will be available at the counter through Mardi Gras Day (February 12). If you want to reserve a bunch of them in advance, call 251-316-0008. To visit and "like" Gigi's Facebook page, click here.
Head to Krispy Kreme for Mardi Gras Doughnuts Jan. 21, 2013: If the Carnival season is the time for excess (and it is), then Krispy Kreme has the perfect way for revelers to indulge. First up is the King Cake Doughnut. We'll say that again: King Cake Donut. It's a cinnamon yeast donut, glazed of course, topped with stripes of purple, green, and gold granular sugar, then a drizzle of white icing. It is, in a word, yummy. They also have a glazed doughnut, topped with chocolate icing, which is then completely covered in purple, green, and gold jimmies (or sprinkles, if you insist). To round out your mixed dozen, they offer glazed doughnuts topped with purple or green or gold tie-dye icing. It's certainly a great way to bring some Mardi Gras to the office. You won't find any signs advertising these items, but the Krispy Kreme employees have been wearing festive masks just to remind you. And the inside of the Hillcrest store is completely decorated for Mardi Gras. Which one of these tempting, tasty treats is best? The Mask will answer that by saying that you should not walk into the store or drive through without getting at least a couple of the king cake doughnutes. If you'd like to check out the Facebook page for the Hillcrest Krispy Kreme, click here.
Mobile-ize Your Beads Jan. 17, 2013: Everybody's got to have some beads this time of year, right? Heck, we wear them to work, we wear them to the bars, we even wear them to funerals. OK, not all funerals. Anyway, why not make your beads Mobile-specific? Toomey's Mardi Gras (Government Street, Carnival Museum, and Daphne) has some pretty cool custom-made beads that show off the fact that your Mardi Gras doesn't involve a city shaped like a crescent. No sir, you're a Mobile reveler. How about some Joe Cain-face beads? Or beads with an emblem that quotes Mobile's Mardi Gras king, Felix III? You can even get a big old emblem bead that boldly declares Mobile's Mardi Gras can trace its roots back to 1703. If you want to check out the Toomey's web site, click on "resources" in the list on the left, then look for the links under "Merchants."
Mobile Mask Radio Ad Features the Voice of Joe Cain Jan. 7, 2013: OK, not really, but it's pretty funny anyway. The Mobile Mask has a commercial currently airing on 92 Zew, and if you haven't heard it yet, here's an MP3 of it you can click and listen to:
If you'd like to see the even funnier video that the Mask made from this ad, click here.
MAMGA 75th Anniversary Float Debuts
Jan. 1, 2013: The Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association, the area's leading historically African American Mardi Gras organization, is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2013. MAMGA provided a small glimpse of that celebration New Year's Eve night by including its revamped emblem float in the Mardi Gras style parade that rolled through downtown Mobile. The float is fronted by a large, 3-D "75 Years," and there's a large diamond below that. All along the upper tier of the long float, a Mobile cityscape has been painted. Across the sides of the lower portion of the float, a more residential scene, which includes longtime businesses in the African American community, such as Hodges Funeral Chapel, has been painted. The float is capped with the image of a lanky saxophone player, leaning back and making music. For more on the 75th anniversary of MAMGA, see the story in Mobile Mask magazine.