By RICK WATSON
Casey Horn and her brother Trent Wright brought a taste of Mardi Gras with them from Mobile when they moved here and started the Mystics of Mountain Brook Halloween parade. What started out eight years ago as one car driving down Dexter Avenue tossing beads to people on the street has grown to 25 floats
and thousands of people along the parade route.
Even though the parade is always on Halloween, it has a Mardi Gras feel to it. Paraders throw Mystics of Mountain Brook T-shirts, beads, stuffed animals and footballs to bystanders as the parade passes.
According to Casey Horn, some people go all out with their floats. In years past there was a pirate ship and an 80s theme float with a disco ball and people dressed in 80s garb.
Lori Welsh and her neighbor Micah Russell have built prize-winning floats the last few years. Two years ago they made a graveyard theme with funny epitaphs on tombstones, and last year the theme was “Far, far away, in a tiny kingdom.” There were Disney characters, a castle with turrets and a smoking dragon with flapping wings.
The fun part of the parade is that it’s a neighborhood thing, according to Welsh. “We have neighborhood kids who help decorate the float,” she said. “The dragon from last year was paper mache, so the kids got a chance to work with the arts and crafts piece which they loved.”
This year’s theme is a secret, but Micah Russell’s brother, a rocket scientist who he helped mechanize last year’s dragon, is involved with the design again. “So we may go over the top,” Welch said.
Casey Horn said that a lot of people really get into designing floats. Local businesses provided prizes to the most unique entries.
“Some people go all out,” said Lisa Flake, “but we simply decorate our float with streamers and balloons and fill it with candy-tossing kids.” The event is fun for the entire family, she added.
The parade has everything from golf carts to flat bed trucks participating in the fun. Along with the floats are the high school cheerleaders, a roller derby, and the mayor of Mountain Brook driving a fire truck.
“I was surprised by how many people were along the streets watching the parade,” said Mayor Terry Oden. The quality of the floats, and the costumes, was remarkable, according to the mayor. “Plus, the group donates the proceeds to help make the city more beautiful. The group gives back to the city, which is very nice”
Signups to have a float in the parade are first come first serve and start in September outside La Paz Restaurant in Crestline.
The parade route starts out by the Emmet O’Neal Library, goes by the Tot Lot, turns left on Church Street and then right onto Dexter Avenue. It ends up on Vine Street near the Board of Education building.
Float entry fees and business sponsorships pay for the parade permit, T-shirts, beads and candy. Any money left over is donated to the Mountain Brook Beautification Fund to help pay for flowers, benches and other items for the city.
The parade begins at 4 p.m. on October 31. After the parade several families have bands that play. For the last three years, country music star Sara Evans has performed on the front steps of Lisa Flake’s house.