Jackson County

Ocean Springs gives a thumbs up to first all-female Mardi Gras parade

Elizabeth Feder-Hosey, left, and Heather Eason approach the Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen with the proposal to form an all-women night parade.
Elizabeth Feder-Hosey, left, and Heather Eason approach the Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen with the proposal to form an all-women night parade. klnelson@sunherald.com

Elizabeth Feder-Hosey and Heather Eason met as candidates, when they ran for office on the city’s Board of Aldermen earlier this year.

When neither won, they realized they wanted to stay involved in the community, Eason said. They’ve come up with a way to do it and to celebrate the women of Ocean Springs.

They are proposing an all-woman Mardi Gras parade to roll after the city’s night parade, along the same route.

The night parade is the Ocean Springs Carnival Association, which rolls next season at 7 p.m. Feb. 9. The working title for the new parade is The Mermaid and the Phoenix.

The two women took their proposal to city leaders at the first aldermen meeting of the month on Tuesday night and the all-male board gave the idea a thumbs up.

Mayor Shea Dobson said, “Anytime you can extend and add more Mardi Gras, I’m all for it.”

This will be the first all-women parade on the Coast, in recent history. It’s expected to start off with about 15 floats and follow, immediately, the Carnival Association parade. The women pitched it to the Board of Aldermen as “fun and classy.”

“After the election, a lot of women came to me and said they don’t feel fully represented at City Hall right now,” Feder-Hosey said. “We felt this would be a good way to celebrate women in Ocean Springs, the cornerstone of our economy — businesswomen and women who do the grocery shopping.

“A lot of our tax revenue is in retail and a lot of our retailers are women,” Feder-Hosey said. “We have women restaurateurs, women caterers and professional women.”

The name they came up with represents two worlds coming together, Eason said, mermaids and rising from the ashes as represented by the phoenix.

“The Coast is full of strong women,” she said, “women who have overcome great odds. And the older I get, the more I realize how important relationships are with different types of women coming together.”

And you know how one New Orleans parade throws shoes? This parade would throw decorated purses. Businesses could sponsor purses and stuff them with coupons and discounts.

The next step

Eason said getting the city’s blessing was key to starting the event in Ocean Springs. They didn’t want to put too much planning into it until they made sure it would be well-received.

“I feel like I needed to get their blessing,” she said. “They approve every event down here. They support the night parade.”

Eason has managed the night parade in the city for four years. She said she sees The Mermaid parade following it as the easiest way to pull it off by using the least amount of city resources.

“If we’re real about it, there could be an extra 15 floats,” she said, “so it would take resources.”

The city’s day parade, the Ocean Springs Elks parade, already has a parade rolling behind it.

How to join

Eason and Feder-Hosey have been talking to friends and business owners.

But they have yet to send out invitations. Now that aldermen have given their blessing, they will start the process of forming the group and make some serious preparations.

The plan is to send out about 200 invitations with an explanation saying, “You’ve been highlighted as someone who might be interested, if you’re not, please pass it on to someone who is.”