What happens when a city known for parading starts a parade too early? It conducts a second parade, of course.
That was the scenario at this year’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration known as MoonPie Over Mobile. Despite a “bone-chilling” temperature, Councilman Fred Richardson told his Mobile City Council colleagues at a pre-conference meeting that MoonPie drop organizers were so excited to get the parade underway that they left before a Chattanooga Bakery bus could join them in the festivities.
“Everything went off according to schedule, except the parade left ahead of time,” Richardson said. “They started a second parade with about 200 people.”
Despite the excitement around two second-line parades, Mother Nature had an impact, at least in terms of getting an accurate count of event participants.
Carol Hunter, Downtown Mobile Alliance spokeswoman and Events Mobile board member, said organizers couldn’t get a crowd estimate this year because revelers stayed in bars, restaurants and hotel lobbies until right before midnight.
“I wish I could give you a number,” she said. “The weather made it impossible.”
While organizers couldn’t get an accurate count of the crowd size during the main event, Hunter said they’re predicting the largest crowd ever participated in the cutting of the world’s largest edible MoonPie from Chattanooga Bakery, which for the first time was completely eaten while people were still in line.
Despite the conditions, Hunter said, the event was a success given the business it generated downtown on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31. From her own experience, she said wait times at local eateries were 30 to 45 minutes.
“For two days, hotels and restaurants were full,” she said. “You really couldn’t get into a restaurant.”
Events Mobile President Kesshia Davis said she was proud visitors came out in the frigid weather to celebrate, especially in the “wind tunnels” created by taller buildings downtown.
“I think it was really great,” Davis said. “The weather impacted it, but we always know Mother Nature will show up in some way.”
Richardson told councilors that with the wind chill the temperature reached 17 degrees on New Year’s Eve. Yet the party went on.
“The wind came off the water and made it exceedingly cold,” he said. “It didn’t stop anything. Lots couldn’t take the cold, but many still came out.”
Despite the success of this year’s event, Richardson lamented the impact weather events such as the cold, rain and fog have had on the event in its first 10 years.
“We’ve had foggy nights, rainy nights and bone-chilling cold,” Richardson said. “I just want a regular night.”