For a Mardi Gras parade to pop up in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a town near Atlanta, is only somewhat surprising. After all, in the 19th century variations of the Rex parade arose in cities across the country, as far away as Omaha and Cincinnati.
But, for a Georgia parade to be led by an effigy of the tarp-wrapped, dead alligator that mysteriously appeared in a pink dumpster on Perrier Street in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, is, well, astonishing.
Carmen Malizia may not live in New Orleans, but she has certainly tapped into the Crescent City zeitgeist. Malizia, a bank employee, said that in 2017 and 2018, friends invited her to New Orleans to experience Carnival and she immediately fell in love with the spectacular celebration.
Malizia, 65, said she discovered she’s one of those people who attends Mardi Gras parades even if it’s raining and returns home with 800 pounds of beads no matter what. She’s visited New Orleans several times since and has become devoted to the city’s sometimes strange customs.
Malizia is an enthusiast. During the Stone Mountain annual Christmas parade, she’s the volunteer who wrangles the elves that dance to the tune of “Feliz Navidad.” She and a fellow New Orleans devotee hosted a Mardi Gras-themed party in order to entice town leaders to permit a Carnival parade in Stone Mountain. The town leaders were willing to give it a go.
There’s a big dead alligator sticking out of a pink dumpster on Perrier Street -- No lie"> There’s a big dead alligator sticking out of a pink dumpster on Perrier Street -- No lie
The tail of a rather large, dead alligator protruded from a pink dumpster at the corner of Perrier and Upperline streets at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Th…
The inaugural Stone Mountain Village Mardi Gras procession in 2020 included one small float, antique cars, decorated golf carts, marching bands, bagpipers and umbrella-wielding dancers. Everyone in town seemed to love the parade, Malizia said, and there was no reason to think it wouldn’t become an annual event.
Of course COVID-19 made parading impossible in 2021, but Malizia and other organizers are seeking permits for the next SMVMG parade, scheduled to roll on Feb. 26, 2022, with a stuffed dumpster gator in the lead.
The dumpster gator effigy began as something other than a Mardi Gras prop.
The back story goes like this: Malizia was eager to enter the Stone Mountain scarecrow contest scheduled for late October. Knowing her love of New Orleans, Malizia’s artistic pal Nancy Johnson suggested that she create an alligator-shaped scarecrow for the contest. But Malizia put a twist on the plan.
Malizia said that since she constantly follows New Orleans-oriented social media, she was aware of the city’s strange post-Ida fascination with the dead Uptown alligator and the young woman who’d had the surrealistic image of the reptile tattooed on her thigh. So Malizia decided her scarecrow wouldn’t just be an alligator, it would be a tribute to the celebrated dumpster gator.