Grand Marshall Earl Callaway will lead O.B. parade
Although the Orange Beach based group is now defunct, the Krewe of the Mystic Isle was responsible for Orange Beach’s first Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Parade back in (he thinks) 1993, said Earl Callaway, who will serve as grand marshall of this year’s parade.
As he remembers it, krewe members built and designed a flatbed float to transport the group from The Keg to an Orange Beach Sports Assn. sponsored Fat Tuesday fish-fry under the Perdido Pass Bridge.
“We had so much fun going over there on that float that we decided to try to have a parade,’’ the Orange Beach native said. “I asked the city for $10,000 and they unanimously voted to give us $7,500.’’
Callaway, widely considered to be Orange Beach’s first rock ‘n roll musician, said he spent most of the stipend on marching bands.
“I tried to line up all these small school marching bands that would come play for a few hundred dollars,’’ he said. “The rest I spent on putting local pickers on flatbed trucks.’’
Although he knows he is leaving out some local characters, Callaway said Dean and Sylvia Howland (who owned The Keg at the time), Robert Herrin, Billy Ray, Marlin Rogers, Virgie Stewart, Howard Bain and Larry Bratton were among the core who worked to make the first paarade happen. Dorance “Montana” Hanson designed and built the Mystic Isle floats used in those early parades.
The parade was an immediate hit, but very time consuming for its organizer. After a few years, Callaway went to the city’s mayor and asked that the city either take over the parade or pay him a reasonable fee for his time.
“He told me there were two things he absolutely was not going to do. The first was pay me and the second was take it over. I said ‘fine’ and started telling people who called about it to call City Hall and ask for the Mayor,’’ Callaway said.
Orange Beach City Council, aware of the economic impact the parade was already generating, did take over the parade and has since added Friday and Saturday evening parades to its roster.