MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — First there was no invitation to the game, then an invitation to greet fans outside the stadium, and now, the Senior Bowl says the Azalea Trail Maids will be in the stadium, in their dresses, and will be introduced before the game.

It’s been a week of controversy and debate.

WKRG News 5 spoke with two former Trail Maids about the controversy.

“It’s upsetting these girls are under immense scrutiny just over the fact of a dress not knowing the girls and what they stand for and who they are, representatives of the city,” said Breighanna Vigor, a former Trail Maid.

“It’s a complex issue to me. It’s not a black and white this is bad, what’s happening is wrong on either end of them being invited or not being invited. I see both sides,” said Ansley Alford.

Breighanna Vigor and Ansley Alford have something only 50 girls in Mobile share each year. They are former Azalea Trail Maids. Alford was a Maid in 2013-2014, Vigor donned the iconic dress in 2019-2020. Both fondly remember their time as Trail Maids.

“I’ve always said that this organization put me to where I am today,” said Vigor. Alford explained, “being on the Trail definitely shaped me into the person I am today.”

Last week, Mobile County Commissioner Randall Dueitt wanted 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 in the bowl this year.

After days of discussion and uproar from city council members and county commissioners, the Senior Bowl released another statement this week, clarifying the Trail Maids would be introduced on the field after all in their iconic dresses.

“The dresses that they wear are labeled Antebellum-style dresses but they’re not historically accurate Antebellum-style dresses. We’re meant to look like Azalea flowers, which we are called the Azalea City. These girls are in the pastel style dresses to replicate our city’s flower,” said Vigor. “Need to focus more on diving deeper into an organization and what they’re all about instead of just trying to give a representation out of an outward appearance I think if you actually dove deeper into an organization and what they stand for, you’d see just why we love them to be our ambassadors to the city and just how great they are.”

“I think that we can still invoke the beauty that is mobile and the accomplishments of those girls while stepping back from that old southern kind of look,” said Alford.

Both Vigor and Ansley say this year’s Trail Maids, who have wanted to represent the city for years, are having to deal with this when they should be celebrating a huge milestone.

“I think it’s just super upsetting that these girls have to go through it in the first place,” said Vigor. “They didn’t sign up to be the year that caused these problems, that had this conversation. They just wanted to go to the appearance,” Ansley said.

The Senior Bowl also announced the Trail Maids would take part in Monday’s welcome event and Friday’s parade.