MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Planning for a Carnival-style parade are reaching the final stages.
The event, to celebrate the commissioning of the U.S.S. Mobile, the latest Navy ship to be constructed at the Austal USA shipyard on Mobile River, will take place May 21.
A theme has been selected, a route has been set and Mardi Gras organizations are rushing to chip in floats.
“There’s been great interest,” said Judi Gulledge, the executive director of the Mobile Carnival Association. “There’s great enthusiasm for this project and also there’s a waiting list of folks who really would desire to be in it but of course, with the parade route length and with the number of units, we are limited to what we can put on the streets.”
That route will be a modified Route A, beginning at the Mobile Civic Center, traveling down Church Street to Royal Street, across St. Francis Street and down Conception Street to Government Street. Then the parade heads over to Claiborne Street and back to the Civic Center.
Mardi Gras 2021 was just one more casualty of the novel coronavirus pandemic that ruined plans for 12 months.
But now, with new cases low, vaccinations rising and Alabama emerging from the crisis, city officials are confident the event can be held safely.
Gulledge said 21 organizations are contributing 29 floats, mainly emblem floats. She said the Excelsior band and high school marching bands also will participate.
The theme will be “Celebrating Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama,” Gulledge said.
“It’s all about our port city here and all about our mystic organizations,” she said.
This isn’t just about fun. The parade is a shot in the arm for Toomey’s, a Mardi Gras supply store that watched COVID-19 take away its busiest season.
Kim Collins, the store’s operations director, said the business had to get by on customers who bought decorations for “Yardi Gras” displays during the pandemic-interrupted Mardi Gras season. This time of year, she said, normally is dead for the business.
“The whole idea of having a parade in May has gotten lots of excitement,” she said. “Some of the organization, some of the members have already come in and started doing their shopping and getting ready for the parade. So, we’re so excited. I mean, this is what Mobile’s all about, is Mardi Gras.”
Here is a list of mystic societies that will participate:
- Mobile Mystics
- Maids of Mirth
- Infant Mystics
- Neptune's Daughter
- Order of Many Faces
- Mystic Stripers Society
- Butterfly Maidens
- Conde Explorers
- Order of Doves
- Crewe of Columbus
- Knights of Columbus
- Order of Inca
- Order of Athena
- Conde Cavaliers
- Mystics of Time
- Order of Myths
- Order of Angels
- Order of Isis
- Mystic DJ Riders
Updated at 9:02 p.m. to correct an error about the tie-in for the parade. It is for the commissioning, not christening, of the U.S.S. Mobile.