Big Easy rolls into Atmore

Published 3:29 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
New Orleans and Mobile are coming to Atmore, Feb. 5 thanks to the Ladies of Essence. Saturday marks the eighth annual Ladies of Essence Mardi Gras Parade.
While Atmore's parade may not be on the same scale as Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Mobile, it does bring a little taste of the Big Easy a little farther north.
"Those cities have their Mardi Gras parades and we have ours in Atmore," Mayor Howard Shell said. "I think this gives people in Atmore, who may not be able to go to New Orleans or Mobile a chance to enjoy some of the atmosphere of Mardi Gras."
The event began a little over eight years ago when six Atmore ladies decided they wanted to bring a good, clean, version of the world's biggest party home.
"We had a group of ladies in town that wanted to do something to bring a little good fun to the town and toss beads and candy and have a good time," Shell said.
After the first parade the ladies of Essence were given a proclamation to hold the parade annually the Saturday before Fat Tuesday, the event's coordinator Brenda Watkins, said. "I've been involved with this since the beginning," she said.
According to Watkins, Ladies of Essence is a social and civic organization made up of six ladies and five advisors.
"We do different things throughout the city, throughout the year," she said.
Mardi Gras is the group's biggest event.
"It's hard to say how big it will be this year," she said. "We usually have a good turnout and good participation."
Mayor Shell has participated in the event each year and was last year's Grand Marshal. This year's Grand Marshal will be Donnie Munley from the Alabama Department of Corrections' Investigation and Intelligence Division.
"He gets to throw beads, moon pies and candy, and generally have a good time on the parade route," Shell said of the job of Grand Marshal. "Last year they had a nice chauffeur driven convertible for the Grand Marshal."
The parade will begin at city hall and will end at Houston Avery Park on Martin Luther King Dr.
For more information or to enter a float or car in the parade contact Watkins at 368-8616.

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