Over the Hill queens celebrate 20 years

Published 12:20 am Thursday, January 31, 2008

Have you ever heard, “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, 20 years ago I wished for a happy 40th birthday, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect a birthday party that would continue for the next two decades!

But that is exactly what happened in 1988 when I invited a few friends to help me celebrate by riding on a rented float in the Phoenix parade.

We deemed ourselves the Over the Hill Gang, and throughout the years, we have evolved into one of the most highly recognizable Mardi Gras groups.

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The crowds can not only see, but also hear, our black and silver “box” bouncing along the parade route with music blaring and jovial members dancing, singing, and throwing “happies” to the adoring fans. Dressed in black and accessorized with enough sparkling rhinestone jewelry to blind the parade-goers, we proudly wear our crowns designating us as “Queens for Life!”

We are a diverse group with some of us having careers and others’ being “queens” of their households. All of us are mothers and some are grandmothers, but our most common bond is the love of having a great time! Just mentioning our bead-buying trips to New Orleans where “The Nunz from Natchez” entertain the patrons of Pat O’Brien’s with our bags of props and our never-ending supply of American flags, or our theme parties, or our parade-day luncheons with our famous guest performers and outlandish skits cause us to start reminiscing and laughing until we cry at the zany memories that we have made over the last 20 years.

As the years have come and gone, OTH has not only shared wonderful experiences, but we have also shared our sorrows. We have raised teenagers and we have had illnesses, accidents, marital problems, loss of parents and other stresses that plague women in our age group. Also we have mourned the loss of two of our members, our angelic Betsy with her beautiful smile and our fun-loving Susan with her tremendous zest for life. But through it all, the good memories by far surpass the bad ones, and to paraphrase Garth Brooks, “none of us would have missed the dance!”

So as we celebrate my 60th birthday with three other OTH Sisters (who will remain anonymous but will be at the front of the float), our goals will be to continue making happy memories for the next 20 years, to add an elevator to our float, and to finally write our recipe and party planning book entitled, The Nunz from Natchez: Heavenly Hosts and Devilishly Good Cooks! Autographed copies will cost extra!

Hope to see you at the parade Friday afternoon and remember to shout, “Throw me something, SISTER!”

Gwen S. MCCALIP is the founder of the Over the Hill Gang.