College football stars throwing signed items to young fans lining the streets of Downtown Mobile could be the unofficial start of the Mardi Gras parading season in 2020.
The Senior Bowl announced on Thursday, Dec. 19 a slate of changes to its schedule, including a Carnival-style players’ parade scheduled for Friday, Jan. 24, about three weeks before the Conde Cavaliers officially kick off the pre-Lenten festivities Feb. 7.
“It’s really exciting and it’s important to build off of last season,” Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy said of the planned events for the 2020 week.
The parade will start at the players’ hotel on Royal Street and move to Dauphin Street before ending at Cathedral Square.
“I’m really excited about it,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. “There will be a parade coming up Dauphin Street. I can’t remember the last time a parade came up Dauphin Street. It’s an exciting day for the Senior Bowl and the city of Mobile.”
When the parade ends, a street party at Cathedral Square will begin. It will be capped off by a free concert headlined by The Revivalists, Nagy said.
“It was one of those go big or go home moments,” he said. “It had to be something big.”
Nagy said he got the idea to spruce up Senior Bowl week after visiting Nashville earlier this year when the city hosted the NFL Draft. The experience “opened my eyes,” he told a group of reporters during a press conference. January’s game will be the 70th time the college all-star game with players representing the North and South would be held in Mobile. It’s the 72nd annual game overall.
In addition to the parade and concert, Senior Bowl week will include other new events like a lip-sync battle sponsored by Fuse Project and Infirmary Health. The event will take place on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. at Soul Kitchen downtown.
Those new events will be joined by other events to fill out the week, including the Senior Bowl Summit, sponsored by Alabama Power and Regions Bank, slated for 8 a.m. on Thursday at the Saenger Theater. The panel discussion will be moderated by ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap and features keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk.
The Senior Bowl Experience and Meet the Players events will take place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24 at the Mobile Convention Center. The game itself will kickoff at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Currently, the Senior Bowl has 100 players slated to participate with a total of six players from in-state schools The University of Alabama and Auburn University, Nagy said. He also teased that former Alabama and current University of Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts would be in attendance.
Nagy said he hopes to build off the success of last year’s game that saw 40 players taken in the first three rounds of the draft and 90 players from the game taken overall.
Stimpson said buy-in from residents of Mobile would be important for the game’s success in 2020 and he commended the game’s executives from changing up the format a bit.
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