UPDATE: (1/25 5:15 PM) — The Senior Bowl has sent a statement that the Azalea Trail Maids have accepted an invitation to attend the welcome event. The Senior Bowl says the Trail Maids were also invited to join the parade and to greet the fans as they go into the stadium on game day.

Full statement from the Senior Bowl:

“For decades, Azalea Trail Maids, the official ambassadors of Mobile since 1929, have welcomed fans to the Senior Bowl. As an important part of our Senior Bowl traditions, we have happily extended the invitation to the Trail Maids to march in the annual parade, join us for the welcome event, and greet our fans as they come into the stadium on game day. The Trail Maids have graciously accepted our invitation to join us at the welcome reception and we hope they will be able to join us for the parade and the game.”

SENIOR BOWL LEADERSHIP

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Senior Bowl is a little more than two weeks away, but a familiar sight may be missing this year.

The Azalea Trail Maids may not be appearing at the game this year. The decades-long tradition at the Senior Bowl is up in the air, and one Mobile County Commissioner is going to bat to keep the tradition alive.

Last week, Mobile County Commissioner Randall Dueitt brought up in a regular planning meeting something that was frustrating him. “If anybody knows how to get in touch with Jim Nagy, I’d appreciate him returning my call,” he said during the meeting.

Dueitt was trying to get an answer from the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, Jim Nagy, to comment on why the Azalea Trail Maids, known for their antebellum-style dresses, would not be participating this year.

The conversation continued between commissioners during the meeting for about 10 minutes.

Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson acknowledged the issue during the meeting.

“Apparently there’s an issue with the Azalea Trail Maids, they’ve not been invited, but they’ve been a part of the Senior Bowl program for a number of years,” Hudson said. “I know I’ve gotten some feedback, gotten some calls from people in the community wondering why they’re being snubbed.”

At one point, Commissioner Merceria Ludgood also weighed in on the topic.

“This is not the first time the whole notion of the Azalea Trail Maids has been controversial. This is not a new thing. It’s just a new iteration of it,” Ludgood said.

Dueitt has since spoken with Nagy, but they’re still at odds.

“I understand their position, I disagree with their position,” Dueitt said.

The Azalea Trail Maids serve as the official ambassadors of Mobile. Dueitt says that’s why they should be invited to the bowl.

“I think it’s unfortunate that I hate to even say it but the ‘woke NFL and cancel culture’ is coming here and attacking a very diverse group of young ladies. If you’ve never looked at their application, it’s amazing. It’s astonishing. As far as the early 1970s, they’ve been a diverse group. I think it’s unfortunate that it’s got to this point,” said Dueitt.

He says the Trail Maids participate in nationwide events all the time. They’ve participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, parades at Disney World, and they were also invited to represent the state of Alabama for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

“Where I sit right now if the Azalea Trail Maids are not invited to participate in the Senior Bowl activities I will not be voting to give them money,” Dueitt said during the planning meeting last week.

Dueitt would not say that when we spoke with him Monday, instead, saying Nagy knew what his stance was.

“The last thing I want to do for our city and our community to lose the Senior Bowl. But also, I’m not going to sit back and allow this group of young ladies to be discriminated against,” said Dueitt.

You may remember, the Senior Bowl made another change last year, getting rid of the North/South team names to get away from Civil War imagery.

We have been calling the Senior Bowl for several days and are awaiting a response from them about the Azalea Trail Maids at the Senior Bowl.