MOBILE, AL (WSFA) - The following is a news release from the City of Mobile, AL.
The corner of St. Joseph and St. Francis Streets in downtown Mobile will be the hot spot for New Year's fun this year. Instead of celebrating in a "Brick House," Mobile will hit the streets in the premiere New Year's Eve celebration in the Central Time Zone. The Commodores will be the headlining act as Mobile rings in 2013, along with the MoonPie Drop, a laser show and fireworks from atop the RSA BankTrust Building and in Mobile Bay.
The free events will kick off with a Mardi Gras-style parade at 7:30 p.m. that will parade through downtown. Such local and regional acts as Wet Willie Band, Hotwire, Grayson Capps and others will be performing on stages in Mobile's historic Bienville Square and at Government and Royal streets on Austal's Mardi Gras Park where two of the city's notable museums, the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and History Museum of Mobile will be offering children's activities as the clock moves closer to the magical midnight hour At midnight, eyes in Mobile and across the Central Time Zone will be on Mobile's Mardi Gras icon – the MoonPie. The 12-foot-tall electronic MoonPie will descend from the 34-story RSA BankTrust skyrise as the city welcomes 2013 and the beginning of Mardi Gras season. This is the 5th year the iconic MoonPie has debuted as part of Mobile's New Year's Eve Celebration. Whether you prefer RC Cola or a glass of champagne, ring in the New Year in downtown Mobile.
"We looked at several locations and wanted to bring the MoonPie Drop and stage location closer together to build more enthusiasm," said Mayor Sam Jones of Mobile. "The combination of the great entertainment, the uniqueness of the MoonPie Drop and an anticipated large crowd have the makings of one amazing evening," said Jones. "Austal USA, a new sponsor, and our other sponsors are making this possible and we are delighted that 20 media markets will be counting down the new year live from Mobile, Alabama."
In addition to the smaller stages featuring local acts throughout the evening, the main stage adjacent to Bienville Square, will allow for larger crowds, better protection from the weather and great views of the MoonPie and the fireworks shows.
This year's MoonPie Over Mobile celebration will start with a Mardi Gras-style parade featuring floats, bands and a few surprises. Afterwards, a street party of live entertainment will help draw thousands of people downtown. Crowds will be able to write their New Year's resolutions on two giant boards and start 2013 off right. Downtown Mobile will be one giant street party that will last into the early hours of the New Year.
"Mobile's New Year's Eve Celebration featuring the MoonPie Over Mobile has become a cultural phenomenon in the entire USA," said Mobile City Councilman Fred Richardson. "Just like the Commodores song, making New Year's Eve plans is 'Easy,' just head to downtown Mobile for a fun and safe celebration to remember. Last year we had more than 60,000 people attend MoonPie Over Mobile and we hope to make it even larger this year," said Richardson. "I look forward to this New Year's Eve being the best that has ever been in our city." First started in 2008, MoonPie Over Mobile gives locals and tourists a chance to experience New Year's Eve with a bit of Mardi Gras flavor. Richardson is credited for creating the MoonPie Over Mobile concept.
"All eyes will be on Mobile this New Year's Eve," said Kent Blackinton, general manager of Renaissance Riverview Plaza and president of the Mobile Hotel Association. "We have added more family friendly activities to make this great party even better this year. With lots of fun and affordable options, we are looking to fill the streets of Mobile and the hotel rooms in the city to welcome 2013 with a bang. Television viewers throughout the Central Time Zone can watch MoonPie Over Mobile live in a 35-minute telecast on Raycom stations, but we would rather have you being part of the excitement."
What's New This Year?
Reach For The Moon – Resolution Wall
Dine on the world's largest edible MoonPie from Chattanooga Bakery in the beautiful courtyard of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel on Royal and Government streets in downtown Mobile as you toss your cares away by leaving your 2012 resolutions on the "Reach For The Moon" Resolution Wall. Make new resolutions on this giant board or on the one near the RSA BankTrust Building and start the New Year off right.
Three Stages with Diverse Acts
The Mardi Gras Park Stage at the cover of Government and Royal Streets will have live music from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. and feature Perfect Image Show & Band; Elmo & the Bluesmen; and Grayson Capps. The Bienville Square Stage will have entertainment from 5:00 to 9:00, ending with Hotwire. The Main Stage at St. Joseph and St. Francis Streets will have opening remarks at 8:45 p.m., The Wet Willie Band from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. and The Commodores from 11:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Why a MoonPie?
Mobile is the home of America's first Mardi Gras celebration, and the MoonPie is the favored "throw" of the hundreds of Mardi Gras maskers riding the floats during the extensive Mardi Gras parade season. MoonPies were first thrown from Mardi Gras floats in 1952. Today, Mobile consumes more than four million MoonPies annually, and has adopted the delicious treat as an informal emblem. For the MoonPie Over Mobile celebration, this southern city has teamed up with Chattanooga Bakery, the maker of the iconic MoonPie marshmallow sandwich, to create the largest electronic MoonPie as the featured attraction for its New Year's Eve celebration. This is the fourth year an electronic version of the delicious treat will light up downtown Mobile.
Mardi Gras was first discovered in the New World in 1703 at Twenty-Seven Mile Bluff, the first settlement in Mobile. The first masked parading society, the Cowbellion de Rakin society, was formed in 1830. Mobile currently has more than 50 parading and non-parading organizations. An estimated 850,000 people attend parades, parties and other organizations associated with the carnival festivities. This number will likely increase in 2013.
About The Commodores
Formed out of Tuskeegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, in 1968, The Commodores reign as one of the top bands of Motown with seven No. 1 songs and a host of other top-10 hits on the Billboard charts.
Acclaimed for ballads like "Easy" and "Three Times a Lady," as well as funky, dance hits such as "Brick House" and "Too Hot to Trot," The Commodores are bringing their soulful sound to Mobile this New Year's Eve.
The group started out as the opening band for the Jackson 5 tour in 1971, and their excellent performances on stage led to a deal with Motown. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, the Commodores released continuous hit singles and albums starting with "Machine Gun" as well as timeless hits like "Just to Be Close to You" and "Nightshift."
The Commodores were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003. They have been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards and won for the song, "Nightshift" in 1986.
Current band members consist of members Walter Orange, William King and J. D. Nicholas. Past members include Lionel Richie, Thomas McClary, Ronald La Pread, Milan Williams, Sheldon Reynolds and Skyler Jett. Though the band officially left Motown in 1985, the three core members are still active, performing their classic tunes around the world and gaining new generations of fans.
The Wet Willie Band – Hailing from Mobile, Wet Willie is a soulful, Southern rock band best known for their hit "Keep On Smilin'," which reached No. 10 on the Billboard Chart in 1974.
Perfect Image Show & Band – For more than 18 years, this band has been a Gulf Coast favorite entertaining crowds with a variety of songs. From Motown sounds to pop and rock, even to country classics, this core group of five guys and one female vocalist does it all.
Elmo & the Bluesmen – What started as a special gig at BayFest in 2010, developed into one of the great blues bands in Mobile. These blues guys play regularly in and around Mobile and have been a favorite at the Downtown New Years celebration.
Grayson Capps – Rooted in Mobile, Capps spent more than a decade in New Orleans, developing into a revered singer-songwriter with songs of stinging tales of the Southern Gothic.
Jon Miller Band featuring Tanya Madison – Jon Miller is an imaginative singer/songwriter from L.A. (Lower Alabama). Jon was nominated for two major awards "Country Song of the Year" and "Music Video of the Year" by the international Just Plain Folks Awards.
Hotwire –A legendary dance band based in Mobile, Hotwire has played throughout the Southeast and is known as a great live band. With multiple vocalists, a rhythm section and horns, the Hotwire Band keeps crowds on the dance floor with music from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Where Will MoonPie Over Mobile Be Televised?
Raycom Media will be doing a live 35-minute telecast from MoonPie Over Mobile. It will be telecast on the following stations: WAFF - Huntsville, AL; WBRC - Birmingham, AL;
WSFA - Montgomery, AL; WDFX - Dothan, AL; WTVM - Columbus, GA; WPGX - Panama City, FL; WLOX - Biloxi, MS; WDAM - Hattiesburg, MS; WLBT - Jackson, MS; KAIT - Jonesboro, AR; KTRE - Lufkin, TX; KLTV - Tyler, TX; KCBD - Lubbock, TX; WAFB - Baton Rouge, LA; KPLC - Lake Charles, LA; KSLA - Shreveport, LA; WMC - Memphis, TN; KFVS - Cape Giradeau, MO and KYOU - Ottumwa, IA. Locally, WKRG in Mobile will air the telecast. Other stations are certainly welcome to create their own live telecast.
MoonPie Over Mobile Timeline
New Year's Eve – Monday, December 31
Resolution Wall – Revelers share their goals for the New Year on the Reach for the Moon Resolution Wall in the courtyard of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel.
7:30 p.m. – New Year's Eve Parade
The downtown parade will feature some of Mobile's best Mardi Gras floats and marching bands. As America's first Mardi Gras, Mobile takes great pride in this family-friendly celebration.
Bienville Square Stage (Dauphin Street)
5:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Jon Miller Band featuring Tanya Madison
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. - Hotwire
Austal Mardi Gras Park Stage (Government & Royal Streets)
6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – Perfect Image Show & Band
8:00 – 9:00 p.m. – Elmo & the Bluesmen
9:30 – 11:00 p.m. – Grayson Capps
Main Stage (St. Joseph and St. Francis Streets)
8:45 p.m. – Opening ceremony and remarks by Mobile's elected officials.
9:00 to 10:30 – Wet Willie Band
11:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. – The Commodores
9:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. A New Year's Eve Night to Remember
A fabulous New Year's Eve ball featuring a great menu, cash bar, and the Mobile Big Band Society. Proceeds will benefit McKemie Place a (501c3 non-profit) homeless shelter for women. Tickets are $50 per person or $500 per table, and available at mckemieplace.org.
11:30 p.m. – Light show begins downtown
The Commodores will continue to perform as the lights of RSA Battle House Tower and the Renaissance Riverview Plaza put on a light show for the crowd.
11:59 p.m. – Countdown starts as the giant MoonPie descends from atop the RSA BankTrust Building.
Midnight – Laser and fireworks show over downtown Mobile.
In addition to the giant MoonPie and laser show on the RSA BankTrust Building, Mobile will have a synchronized fireworks show to help properly welcome 2013.
12:30 a.m. –The Commodores performance concludes.
Crowds enter downtown bars, restaurants and hotels to continue celebrating the New Year.
2012 MoonPie Over Mobile Sponsors
City of Mobile
Retirement Systems of Alabama
Blue Gill Restaurant
Darling Insurance Agency
Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel
Battle House, a Renaissance Hotel & Spa
Downtown Mobile Alliance
Help Sponsor MoonPie Over Mobile
Interested in sponsorship information? Different levels are still available. Contact Barbara Drummond at email@example.com.
2012 MoonPie Over Mobile Fun Facts
- The giant MoonPie weighs 350 pounds and is 12 feet tall.
- Knight Sign Industries from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, built the giant MoonPie which is made of plastic and features LED lights. The retractable MoonPie is completely weather resistant.
- The MoonPie will drop 317 feet in 60 seconds from atop the 34th floor of the RSA BankTrust Building.
- The original MoonPies are made by Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, TN. Mobile consumes more than 4 million MoonPies annually.
- Mardi Gras first appeared in Mobile in 1703, the first location in the United States. MoonPies were first thrown from Mardi Gras floats in 1952 and have become Mobile's favorite "throw" ever since.
- Mardi Gras is big business in Mobile. More than 12,811 jobs are directly related to Mardi Gras in Mobile and Baldwin counties. The annual economic impact is more than $227 million in direct carnival spending.
- The first MoonPie Over Mobile celebration was held on Dec. 31, 2008 and was the idea of Mobile City Councilman Fred Richardson. Councilman Richardson continues to serve on the Mobile City Council.
- Formed out of Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, in 1968, The Commodores reign as one of the top bands of Motown with seven No. 1 songs and a host of other top-10 hits on the Billboard charts. Acclaimed for ballads like "Easy" and "Three Times a Lady," as well as funky, dance hits such as "Brick House" and "Too Hot to Trot," The Commodores are bringing their soulful sound to Mobile this New Year's Eve.
- The Commodores started out as the opening band for the Jackson 5 tour in 1971, and their excellent performances on stage led to a deal with Motown.
- An elaborate laser show will be incorporated into the MoonPie Over Mobile festivities. The laser show will be produced by Lasertainment, a national laser company. Lasertainment has produced high-tech laser productions for events like the Olympics, Super Bowl, Final Four and All Star Games. The laser projection on the RSA BankTrust Building can be 50 feet wide by 150 feet tall.
- RSA is the Retirement Systems of Alabama – the state teachers' and workers' pension fund. RSA has invested more than $600 million in Mobile. BankTrust is headquartered in the RSA BankTrust Building. The building has a Mardi Gras theme year-round.