30 years old and still on a roll
Published 12:17 am Friday, February 9, 2018
In 1988 when Mardi Gras had just recently been resurrected in Natchez, and the Krewe of Phoenix had risen from the ashes like the mythical bird, someone who will remain nameless rented a float to celebrate her 40th birthday with a few friends. What was supposed to be a one-time ride turned out to be so entertaining that others wanted to join in, resulting in the birth of the Over-the-Hill Queens. Now in 2018, OTH is celebrating its 30th anniversary of fun, frolic and friendship.
The group now laughs at the fact that 30 years ago members were in their 30’s and 40’s and not really over-the-hill. Now in our 60’s and 70’s, the name might be a little more appropriate; however, some members might just argue that point!
Admittedly, we have not traveled to New Orleans lately for our bead-buying trips because now it is too easy to purchase beads from Pleasant Acres, locally or online. Although the group no longer spends eight hours at Pat O’Briens pleasing the crowds with our outlandish props geared to enhance the piano players’ musical selections, the “Nunz from Natchez’s” reputation still lives on in one of the Big Easy’s most popular tourist attractions. No matter how many have tried, no other group has ever nor will ever replicate the feelings of patriotism generated when our Sistahs passed out dozens of flags and rallied the Pat O’s troops to the strains of “Proud to be an American”. Enough said.
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Of course, many traditions remain such as the pre-parade parties where our annual skits continue to be hilarious. Even though the gang is sworn to secrecy, word has a way of leaking out about the elaborately-costumed presentations highlighting Tiger Wood’s “problems”, and the crisis in Eqypt where Little Eqypt and her harem and Ahab the Arab made memorable appearances. Other spoofs included Mo-town where wigs and glasses prevailed, and Downtown Abbey ending with a dance routine that made every one cry laughing. But one of the very best performances was the Nunsense Players’ Oscar-worthy parody on “Chicago”, and the OTH Jailbirds’ rendition of the song, “He Had It Coming” brought the house down especially for those who have ex-husbands!
Our diverse group of fun-loving women takes pride in what we think of as having been a trail-blazer for other terrific groups organized over these last three decades making the Krewe of Phoenix bigger and better each year. For example, my daughter-in-law was rather envious of my Mardi Gras involvement, so she and some of her friends started the Pink Flamingoes on her 30th birthday, and they continue to be one of the most colorful floats in the parade. The more the merrier!
So in the 30 years of “ups and downs” in our personal lives, we continue to look forward to the Friday before Fat Tuesday. Our Heavenly Sisters, Betsy, Susan and Sara, are still with us in spirit as the 22 remaining members invite everyone to join us at the Krewe of Phoenix parade as we proudly say, “We might be ‘Over-the-Hill’, but we are ‘Still On a Roll.’”
Gwen S. McCalip is a charter member of the Krewe of Phoenix and Queen Mother of the OTH Queens