Although they paraded last year, newly resurrected Mardi Gras mystic society Order of Doves will host their first ball and parade in 2016, with a theme of “Welcome to Jamaica, a Mardi Gras Caribbean Experience.”
The formerly all African-American society was first established in 1894 with military contract workers who desired to join the merriment in the streets of Mobile. The mystic society is the first truly inclusive society in Mobile history.
Revived four years ago with 10 members marching during Mobile’s New Year’s Eve parade, the Order of Doves has since swelled into a new society that has focused on making itself a freshly evolved parading attraction.
The society’s name reflects free spirit as the dove serves as a symbol of peace and as a liaisons between intuitive thought and common reality.
Alexander Shunnarah and Associates LLP, a personal-injury law firm, lent a hand in the group’s revival after partner and founder Shunnarah was asked to be the society’s king for 2015; he cordially accepted.
The firm is also a sponsor of The Prichard Carnival Association, The Great Gatsby Ball and the Port City Secondliners Ball and plans to continue its efforts to revitalize the Order of Doves.
The OOD differs from many of the other societies in that it doesn’t shield the identities of its members. It also allows open membership to all eligible men and women, regardless of race, to join their open-minded society.
According to President Lorenzo Martin, the 35-member OOD strives to promote diversity and achievement through their society.
“Mardi Gras’ diversity of people attending the festivities should resemble the participants in the societies,” he said. “We have chosen to represent the diverse culture of Mobile County and encourage our young adults to promote the differences of the communities and cities into Mardi Gras experience.”
As the Order of Doves strives to encourage future leaders, junior and senior high school students are given the opportunity to parade with the group. Approximately 15 to 20 high school students from all over Mobile County will ride on the society’s Candy Land float.
The OOD also has an untraditional way of selecting their king and queen.
A committee picks a male and female society member who has been the most active in their community. Those chosen for their good deeds are given the royal titles.
Representing the Order of Doves this season is King James T. Laura Jr. and Queen Marley Goolsby. The royal couple will parade on the king’s King Cobra-themed float in the OOD parade through downtown Mobile on Lundi Gras, the day before Fat Tuesday, at 6:30 p.m. on Route F with the Infant Mystics.
Laura Jr., 29, is a managing partner at the Shunnarah firm. His interactions with students at Blunt High School have been highly praised by parents, staff and students. Martin claims the king basically adopted the school.
Goolsby, 22, is a case manager at the firm. Mardi Gras has always been a family tradition for the proud mother of daughter Bailey Jade.
Also parading with the society are the Grand Marshal, attorney Karlos Finley, and his first lady, Channel 15 News anchorwoman Kelly Jones.
The King Mixture Party, which includes the ceremonial cutting of the king cake, will take place on Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. at the law office, located at 124 Conti St., followed by the parade through downtown and the ball at 9 p.m., which will be held at The Temple Downtown.
The public is invited to all events hosted by the Order of Doves and it is still open to new members. For more information on joining or how to purchase ball tickets, please contact any society member or Martin at 251-422-4555.
“We are no longer living in the ‘was’ but the ‘now.’ Let’s show the United States, the state of Alabama, cities and communities that we are not just the birthplace of Mardi Gras but the ‘now’ place of Mardi Gras,” Martin said.