MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Reese’s Senior Bowl announced Tuesday, Jan. 25 that Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids will be involved in some game week festivities.
For decades the Azalea Trail Maids have been a visible part of the game itself, appearing on the field for pre-game ceremonies. Last week, Mobile County Commissioner Randall Dueitt threratened not to fund the Senior Bowl in the future after learning the Trail Maids had not been invited to appear in their traditional role. Mobile County gives the game $165,000m a year.
The Azalea Trail Maids are known for their antebellum-style dresses. Last year, the Senior Bowl ditched its long standing North-South game format. Duiett called the changes “woke N.F.L. culture.”
Tuesday, the Senior Bowl told WKRG News 5 saying the Trail Maids had previously accepted an invitation to Monday’s welcome event. The Senior Bowl said it has now invited the Trail Maids to appear in Friday’s parade downtown and also to greet fans outside Hancock-Whitney Stadium before the game Saturday.
The Senior Bowl’s full statement:
“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
The Trail Maids organization sent a statrement to WKRG News 5 that did not make it clear if they will appear in the parade and outside the stadium. It read: “The Mobile Azalea Trail and the Senior Bowl have a long history. We have participated in Senior Bowl activities for many years. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Senior Bowl. We remain ready to serve our City whenever we are invited.”
WKRG News 5 spoke with several Mobile City Council members Tuesday. The three we spoke with said they supported the Azalea Trail Maids.
Mobile City Council member William Carroll, who played in the Senior Bowl, said the Trail Maids was one of the most impressive things he experienced as part of the game.
“The Azalea Trail Maids lined the path from when I came out of the runway and down into the entry and they went up the hallway and they all curtseyed as we came off the plan that day. That was one of Mobile’s biggest greeting features I think for when a player comes into the city to see what our city is actually like,” said Carroll.
You may remember, the Senior Bowl got rid of the North/South team names last year, to get away from Civil War imagery.