Mardi Gras Parades – Mystics of Pleasure in Orange Beach, Alabama (February 19, 2012)

Bad Behavior in the Dunes

The 2012 Mystics of Pleasure (MOP) parade in Orange Beach didn’t get off to a promising start. First, wicked weather Saturday forced the MOPs to postpone until Sunday. For my family, the Sunday start was also inauspicious; we went down about 1:55 pm., as our kids aren’t good at delayed gratification. While we waited for an elevator at our condo, we looked across Perdido Beach Boulevard & saw several paradegoers across the road who were “relieving” themselves among the sand dunes. One woman was squatting… ugh. The City of Orange Beach provides port-a-johns people. Please use them.

Here they come! The MOPs start to roll Sunday afternoon.

In spite of the bad omens, the parade turned out well. The delay helped us. The original time for Saturday was 5:30 p.m. and the 2:00 p.m. Sunday start was much better for a family with 1- and 2-year olds. The only negative from the delay was that the parade had (I believe) only one band (the Gulf Shores High School Dolphins); my guess is that the other bands scheduled to appear were already booked for Sunday and, thus, unavailable. The parade, therefore, was a little short.

No Auburn Shirts Allowed

The MOPs presented a standard-issue Mardi Gras parade with a few unique touches. They started with an ROTC unit presenting the flag, which got some salutes from the snowbirds. Then there were many floats, beauty queens, etc. The most-surprising aspect of the parade was that many MOPs dressed in shiny, gray replicas of Confederate uniforms, complete with yellow stitching. The Confederate battle flag was also prominently displayed, both in its original red, white, and blue and in a Mardi Gras version of green, yellow, and pink. Many MOP Confederates rode motorcycles, but I’m not sure that they were the same cycles that the South used in the Civil War (haha).

I made the “mistake” of wearing my Auburn Tigers sweatshirt to the parade. A cop driving along the parade route in a golf cart – obviously an Alabama fan – jokingly announced over the loudpseaker that he was going to write a ticket to the guy in the Auburn sweatshirt. I just laughed. (As an aside, why do all Alabama cops seem to cheer for the Crimson Tide? One year, I sat next to the field at the Auburn-Alabama game; I was behind the State Troopers, and they were all for the Tide. Their motto seems to be “To Protect, Serve, and Root for The Tide”).

One nice touch was that the MOP parade had a string of classic cars and many of the snowbirds (who tend to be retirees) easily identified the cars’ models and years. People got a kick out of the cars, especially when the drivers revved the motors. More mystic societies should use cars in their parades. I really wished that my father – a certified “car guy” – could have been there.

Our Kids Are a Hit

If you want loot from a Mardi Gras parade, just bring some small children. We didn’t catch much, but the snowbirds gave our girls all kinds of throws. One couple from Michigan was especially generous. Among other things, we got 3 frisbees, beads, Moon Pies, saltwater taffy, and many stuffed animals. Our older daughter loves a small, stuffed white horse that we call “Trigger.” The most-interesting throw that we got was a teddy bear dressed as a Native American, complete with braids.

Our daughters had a great time, though it was a little much our older daughter, who had to stand well behind the crowd. Our younger daughter (nicknamed “The Rock” for her even disposition) was placid, so quiet that a snowbird in a green-and-white Michigan State jacket was shocked to find that there had been a toddler next to her for several minutes. Some other women suggested that our older daughter would get more throws if I held her up so that the MOPs could see her; obviously, they don’t know our daughter.

Aftermath

As always, the people watching was one of the best parts of the parade. The best “there’s-a-story-there” sighting was an older white guy with a very-young Asian woman. Inquiring minds want to know…

After the parade ended, we waited before heading back to the condo. Putting the girls in a crowded elevator is a bad idea. While we waited, we got still more stuff from the departing snowbirds.

The MOPs parade was a lot of fun and we will be back next year.

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About mobilemojoman

I have been a Mobile resident for about a decade. Working as a college professor keeps me off the streets and pays the bills. I am married to a woman (the MojoWoman) who is a much better person than I am and we have two beautiful girls who keep us both jumping. My interests are varied - food & drink, sports, politics, exercise, books, travel, Mardi Gras, and all of life's rich pageant. In the future, I'd like to learn more about sailing, photography, Cajun/Creole cooking, making beer and wine, and writing.
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