Mardi Gras

All-female krewes on the Coast will toss handmade throws that rival Nyx and Muses

Girls just wanna have fun, especially during Carnival season, and two new krewes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are making sure girls are a big part of the Mardi Gras scene.

The Mermaid and the Phoenix in Ocean Springs and The Krewe of Salacia in Biloxi are bringing sass and some specialty throws to two parade evenings.

The Krewe of Salacia

In Roman mythology, Salacia was the wife and queen of Neptune and the queen of saltwater, and so the Krewe of Salacia will parade along with Neptune, along the same route. Neptune will roll at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 in Biloxi.

Founders Cheli Strumila and Gretchen David both have longtime ties to Carnival, but it was Strumila’s “inspired revelry” in New Orleans one year, as David put it, that put the real idea for Salacia into becoming a reality.

“Muses had the high heels, and Nyx had the purses,” she recalled. “I loved the whole concept, and I thought, ‘The Mississippi Gulf Coast needs one like this.’”

In keeping with the saltwater life of Salacia — and the water culture of the Coast — the members of this krewe are all making specialty throws from bikini tops. Each member is using her imagination and adding ribbons, sequins, flowers, butterflies, feathers — you name it — to create embellished individual works of art.

There also are bracelets, cups, huggers and specialty beads.

Participants are riding on one of two floats, or walking in marching clubs, inspired by the Old Biloxi Marching Club.

Queen Salacia 2018 is LuAnn Pappas. She found out about her title at a gathering at Scarlet Pearl, where the krewe’s parties are being held.

“Then these showgirls came up with what you could call a royal pillow,” she said. Atop the pillow was a “mermaid’s crown,” featuring shells. It was her crown for the inaugural year of the krewe.

If you happen to be lucky enough to receive one of the unique bikini tops at the parade, visit the Krewe of Salacia’s Facebook page to find out which member decorated it.

The Facebook page also offers more information on the krewe, including contact information on joining.

The Mermaid & the Phoenix

What do mermaids and phoenixes have in common? That’s a great question, Elizabeth Feder-Hosey and Heather Eason would tell anyone interested in their new organization’s unusual name.

The two met while both were campaigning for local office. While they often have opposing viewpoints on issues, they became friends and respect each other’s opinions. It’s that spirit of cooperation and genuine friendship that inspired their organization.

Their mission statement, on their Facebook page, sums up the mission of The Mermaid & the Phoenix: “The Mermaid & The Phoenix is an all-women Mardi Gras parade for the purpose of celebrating the dynamic women of our community. Like mermaids who guide wayward sea men, the women of our community are stalwart guides as business owners, community leaders, mothers, teachers, artists, and professionals. Like the Phoenix the women of our community face hardships, overcome obstacles, and rise from the ashes of defeat to fight a new day. This parade is meant to be a fun and classy way to celebrate being a modern woman on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

“We all have a range of experiences, but we all have so many similarities,” Feder-Hosey said. “At the end of the day, our community comes first.”

The Mermaid & the Phoenix will have a large headliner float for riders as well as marching groups as they follow the Ocean Springs Carnival Association on Feb. 9, which starts at 7 p.m.; The Mermaid & the Phoenix is scheduled to roll right after.

Muses and Nyx — especially Nyx — also inspired the two, who chose purses as their specialty throws.

“Oh, and the mermaid’s purse,” Eason added.

If you catch one of their purses, be sure to look inside. You might find a gift certificate from an Ocean Springs merchant or another small gift. It’s a way to promote the city as well as the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast to visitors and locals alike.

The organization is based in Ocean Springs, but women from across the Coast are welcomed to join, Feder-Hosey and Eason said.

The Mermaid & the Phoenix’s Facebook page has more information about the organization and how to participate.

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1