My first time ever in downtown Mobile was to take part in the MoonPie drop on New Year’s Eve- this year. My husband’s proposal that we travel to the Port City for the event turned out to be a delightful last-minute decision. In 2020, this large social gathering got canceled due to COVID fears, so the return of the tradition in that city (and the state) is symbolic of moving back to normal and letting the must-fear-the-virus-always narrative fall to pieces, just like graham cracker crumbs falling to the ground from the marshmallow and chocolate treat we ate that night.
The MoonPie drop occurred at exactly 12:00 am on January 1st, 2022. The weather was absolutely gorgeous at 70 something degrees, light wind, no rain. Before the 600-pound circle of a lit MoonPie was slowly lowered from the RSA Trustmark Tower, there were other festivities that took place, starting with a live brass band at the Renaissance Hotel plaza to mark the entrance of the giant edible MoonPie. The triple-layered treat was about 3 feet in diameter, the largest one made for this event, and was cut into small pieces and distributed to the crowds.
Down Dauphin Street were many restaurants loaded to the gills with patrons getting dinner and a preliminary drink (or two) for the late-night celebration. Festive Party goers were strolling along that street or within Bienville Square where a stage was set up for musical performances by Mobzilla and Trombone Shorty. (I do have one humble suggestion for Trombone Shorty’s fabulous rendition of “Just give me my heart back” and that is to change the word "heart" to "job," as a tribute to those who chose personal health autonomy over Biden’s unconstitutional mandates. They deserve a rousing song for standing up for their rights, maybe Shorty could oblige… just a thought)
Food trucks parked along the curbs had massive lines that never let up for hours since the handiness of “chicken on a stick” apparently never looked so good to those arriving for this event. Families and friends spent time eating, drinking, talking and dancing to the music.
Mobile city leadership made sure the tone and behavior within this party were set right and set early by having multiple forms of policing on hand, with mounted police, police on bicycles and groups of officers walking throughout the park and neighboring streets. As a result, spirits were high and merry but never out of hand, despite the flow of adult beverages and the potential to which that could lead.
The only visible difference in this crowd that might reveal that COVID had even entered this state a year prior was the masks, worn by a few revelers, albeit vastly outnumbered. I’m not referring to the Mardi Gras kind, but the medical ones that Leanna Wen and Scott Gottlieb just publicly referred to as “useless” (but only after Americans compelled to use them in 2020 have created massive landfills, or have choked hundreds of sea turtles after being dumped into the sea as medical waste).
Social distancing “suggestions” had clearly been taken out with the tide too. It certainly never once crossed my mind, nor the half dozen kids who were scrambling around the area where my husband and I had perched on top of a flat roof shed with a side view of the music stage. We even helped them climb up to share the space with us as total strangers (gasp). It was a night for breaking all the remaining COVID-19 “rules.”
By and large, the majority of people were mask-free, shoulder to shoulder, having a good time listening to the band and waiting for the traditional MoonPie to drop.
What a great way to enter the new year, in my opinion, and delivered with a distinctly Southern rebel yell. Back to normal, or mostly normal with very few traces left of what has been forced upon society as a whole in this nation. It’s notable that COVID fear did not restrain the masses from coming to this Mobile celebration. The rhetoric coming from political apparatchiks about the need to fear COVID did not constrain the masses. Efforts to create strife between vaxxed and non-vaxxed did not divide the masses. Nor did the media-seeded suspicion that your neighbor is a viral terrorist lurking at a “super-spreader” event convince thousands to stay at home. Celebrating life, liberty and community brought everyone together instead.
Things are going to be different in 2022. I can smell it as clearly as I could the salty mist rolling in from Mobile Bay. There’s a sea change happening when it comes to the lingering effects of COVID-19 as a pandemic for enabling the power-hungry. The last vestiges of the virus can still be seen in this state, in the wearing of masks and door signs suggesting that you should do so, but I believe those will also be dissipating soon, a distant memory come this time next year, on the eve of 2023.
Clearly, the return to normalcy with personal rights still intact is not yet over for some. There are battles to be fought and won in this coming year for those not yet at liberty from this crisis of medical choice and freedom, but the way this year ended is a vastly different picture from the way in which it started in Alabama and other states.
My compliments to the city of Mobile for creating such an enjoyable time that was well organized, family-friendly, and memorable as a way to enter the new year. We had a wonderful time entering 2022 with freedom in the air, wafting down the streets of your city, as we “mooned” the COVID virus of 2021.
Andrea Tice is the editor of the Daily Detail at 1819 News. She can be reached at News@1819News.com