Asheville Mardi Gras (AMG) will host the 2019 Parade and Queen’s Ball on Sunday, March 3, stepping off from Federal Alley at 3:05 p.m. This year’s theme is “Wild, Wild Asheville.” Organizer Michael Franco expects a more carnival-like atmosphere this year, as South Slope businesses are eager to participate in the parade. “AMG is a key component of keeping Asheville visible, fun and a bit weird,” says Franco. “Our parade adds a welcome dash of color, sound and exuberance in what would otherwise be a dull, cold month.”
The King and Queen of the parade are decided at the Twelfth Night celebration in January. A king cake is served and all members of AMG are able to take a piece of cake to vie for the crown. The person who finds a tiny, plastic baby in his or her slice becomes king or queen, and then chooses their royal counterpart. This year, King E’boo found the baby and named Nicole White as her queen. “I am more than just one limiting definition of ‘woman’ and I wanted to be king,” says E’boo. “Nicole is new to Asheville Second Line Marching Band and Asheville Mardi Gras, so I thought she would be perfect, as she will bring a new, fresh perspective into the fray.” King E’boo calls Mardi Gras an opportunity to “party with a purpose. We are no longer just attempting to put on some parties and a parade. We are also raising money for philanthropic purposes.” The group, which earned their nonprofit status this year, has visited elderly communities to spread cheer, participated in street clean-up projects and hosted a Cajun Cookoff that collected food for MANNA Food Bank.
“Being queen is about inclusion and self-expression, reveling in collaboration and joyful creation,” says White. “Individuals, businesses and groups in the community can all participate in the parade by signing up as a krewe, where they will work together to create a unique, fun expression of who they are for the rest of Asheville to see.” All members of AMG are invited to march solo, create a new krewe or join an existing krewe. The parade will be followed by a variety of parties in the South Slope area, as well the annual Queen’s Ball, the crowning event of the Mardi Gras season.
For more information about Asheville Mardi Gras or the Parade and Queen’s Ball, visit AshevilleMardiGras.org.