Mardi Gras-style parade planned to celebrate USS Mobile commissioning

Mardi Gras

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — We are learning some of the details about the Mardi Gras-style parade that will be held in May to commemorate the commissioning of the USS Mobile.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson first suggested this during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

It is still very early on in the planning stages, but organizers are planning for the parade to roll on Friday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m. on a modified Parade Route A.

“I think it’s amazing, I think it would be very good publicity for Mobile,” Josh Beverly said.

Many are excited at the idea of a Mardi Gras parade, after a quiet Mardi Gras season this year.

“What better time? People are looking for something. What greater way to celebrate something than the Christening of a ship made by Austal right here in Mobile, named after Mobile,” said Judi Gulledge, the executive director of Mobile Carnival Association.

Tuesday, Mayor Stimpson announced the idea for a Mardi Gras-style parade during the weekend festivities marking the commissioning of the USS Mobile.

That afternoon, Gulledge got to work planning.

“We’re meeting with Mardi Gras mystic societies about putting floats in the parades, meeting with bands, marching groups, other units. Basically, the traditional things you would see in a Mardi Gras parade,” Gulledge said.

She plans to have the parade roll down Royal Street, past dignitaries in town for the commissioning.

“What greater opportunity to do that when we have people visiting than to show them exactly what we celebrate, here is an entire carnival season,” Gulledge said.

Mayor Stimpson says he’s wanted to make the commissioning of the city’s namesake ship something special.

He released this statement about the parade:

“As the chairman of the Commissioning Committee for the USS Mobile, I’ve been involved in discussions about this process for some time. We knew early on that we wanted to make the commissioning of our City’s namesake ship something special and something that all Mobilians would want to celebrate. The USS Mobile bearing our City’s name will be a testament to our enduring connection to the Navy, to Austal USA and to the crew of sailors who will soon be serving aboard this vessel. 
We believe a parade is one of the best ways to incorporate a part of our community’s identity in these celebrations given the cultural significance Mardi Gras has to Mobile and Mobilians. We can’t recreate Carnival activities disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but our hope is that hosting a parade in conjunction with this commissioning could bring some of that spirit to the celebration of the USS Mobile.”

Mayor Sandy Stimpson

Some Mobilians say they are looking forward to that celebration.

“Born in raised right here in Mobile, been to Mardi Gras every opportunity I get. I have a child that’s 5 and 4 that’s only been to one parade in their lives, so I can’t wait to get them to experience what I experienced when I was a child. Thats’ what makes this place what it is,” Beverly said.

The mayor also released a statement about the current plans in regards to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:

“We are making plans to mark this special occasion, but we’re still monitoring the level of COVID-19 in our community. As I told the City Council Tuesday, we’re not taking our eye off the ball. We are making plans based on the current trajectory of COVID-19 numbers and vaccinations. However, any plans made could change based on the number of cases in our community or changes to state and federal guidelines.”

Mayor Sandy Stimpson

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