Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Gras: Ba family affair

y Angie Long


If you watch certain television shows during Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, the celebrations seem to be little more than an opportunity for unbridled revelry involving far too much alcohol, and far too many nubile ladies ready to reveal far more than they should of their physical assets.

However, folks who take part in what many believe is the original site of Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S. – our own port city of Mobile – will tell you Mardi Gras remains a fun, family-oriented affair all ages can enjoy.

The Stacy family of Greenville is one of those who has long made Mardi Gras in Mobile a part of their family fun.

Angel McGrew Stacy grew up in an atmosphere steeped in Mardi Gras tradition.

A family tradition

&uot;Not only am I a fan of Mardi Gras, my family has been in Mobile’s Crewe of Columbus for more than 60 years,&uot; explains Angel, a native of Century, Florida.

Her great-uncle was Grand Marshal for the Crewe of Columbus parade (held on the Friday before Mardi Gras Day) until ill health a few years ago prevented his participation.

Angel’s father continues to serve as a marshal after 43 years of Mardi Gras events.

And it appears the tradition will definitely continue.

&uot;I have five brothers, one brother-in-law, and my husband Ralph, who are all &uot;maskers&uot; with the Crewe of Columbus Mystic Organization,&uot; she adds.

Angel recalls many a Friday night spent running and walking up and down Government Street in Mobile enjoying the parades &uot;and the chance to catch Moon Pies, beads, dubloons and other Mardi Gras throws&uot;.

While the Mardi Gras spirit of &uot;laisser les bon temps rouler&uot; (let the good times roll) is certainly found in Mobile during Mardi Gras season, Angel Stacy says it’s much more than a chance to get together and experience a colorful and festive holiday. Mardi Gras for the McGrews and Stacys is a &uot;family thing&uot;.

Making Mardi Gras memories

&uot;The same street corner has served our family for almost two full generations, and the friends we’ve made over the years have become a part of our family through the shared experience of Mardi Gras,&uot; Angel says.

Mardi Gras stirs many fond memories for Angel and her family.

&uot;Mardi Gras is part of the history of a region and a culture – but most importantly for us, it is part of our family’s history.

So many of our memories, from me as a child walking down Ann Street with ‘PawPaw’ to get Krystals before the parade, to standing alongside Bienville Square shouting for Moon Pies, to watching our daughter Savannah literally growing up along the barriers to the parade route – all form this great tradition that transcends generations within our family,&uot; she explains.

A ‘unique’ celebration

With New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations are often known for raucous crowds and unseemly behavior, Angel Stacy considers Mobile’s Mardi Gras

&uot;unique&uot; in today’s times.

&uot;In Mobile, the parades are still family-oriented;

the crowds are much more subdued and controlled than at the better-known one just down the coast… it’s not unusual to see gentlemen in tails and white ties

and their sequin-clad ladies

jostle side-by-side with folks who couldn’t rub two nickels together for the same beads

– then turn around and hand them to the nearest child.&uot;

The Crewe of Columbus parade is slated to kick off in Mobile at 6:30 p.m. on February 4 – and you can be sure the Stacys and their kith and kin will be part of the Mardi Gras fun.

After all – it’s a family affair.