After bringing its beads, baubles and general bedazzlery to the streets of downtown Asheville for 10 years, the annual Asheville Mardi Gras Parade will be blazing a new path this February as it saunters down the streets of South Slope on Sunday February 11. The parade route was changed due to the Fed Cup tennis competition that will be held at the US Cellular Center on the same date and will undoubtedly bring crowds to town.
"We're delighted that the businesses of South Slope have been so welcoming to Asheville Mardis Gras," said parade committee member Sharon Bowlin. "They're excited to have the energy, color and general revelry that the Mardi Gras parade brings to businesses along the parade route, and we're excited about the freshness the new route will inject into the parade."
This year's parade theme is "AsheVillage People," a nod to the inclusive nature that is one of the most enduring hallmarks of Asheville.
"After a year that saw a lot of division and negativity, we wanted to choose a theme that highlighted the way in which the people and businesses in Asheville try to support each other and keep the focus positive and proactive," said Asheville Communications director, Michael Franco. "The theme of AsheVillage People does exactly that. Asheville Mardi Gras has always had inclusivity as one of its main tenets, and now we have a parade theme to match!"
Each year, Asheville Mardi Gras picks a theme that gives direction to the big parade that's held in February. Last year's theme, for example, was "X," chosen because it was the group's ten-year anniversary. Other themes have included: Wild At Heart (2010); Royal Wedding (2012); French Broads and Odd Fellows (2013); and Saints Vs Sinners (2016). While the theme gives a general shape to the parade, participants are always welcome to either riff off that theme or do something completely different.
The parade is scheduled to step off from the corner of Coxe and Hilliard Avenues at 3:05 on Sunday, February 11 and will follow an approximately half-mile route through South Slope. The exact route will be posted on the Asheville Mardis Gras Facebook Page as soon as a few final details are hammered out with the city.
All Asheville Mardi Gras members are invited to march in the parade either by forming their own krewe or joining a pre-existing krewe. Krewe information can be found on the Asheville Mardi Gras website here: http://www.ashevillemardigras.org/krewes/. Memberships to Asheville Mardi Gras, a non-profit group, cost $25 and provide discounted and/or free access to other AMG activities throughout the year such as the Twelfth Night Party (January 6, at Club 11 on Grove) and the Cajun Cook Off (January 21, at The Salvage Station).
After the parade, the Queen's Ball will be held at Club 11 On Grove, starting at 7PM and running till 11PM. The event, which is free to the public, will feature live music and an award for the best costume.
About Asheville Mardis Gras
Asheville Mardi Gras is a social aid and pleasure club as well as an arts and culture group. Our purpose is to strengthen Western North Carolina’s community connections through promoting creativity, frivolity and celebration, based on the traditions of Mardi Gras. For more information on becoming a member and all AMG events, check us out at www.AshevilleMardiGras.org or join our groups page on Facebook. Laissez les bons temps rouler!