Susannah Cowley, Arizona
It’s hard to believe it has been more than a week since our arrival here in Mobile! Ever since we as Distinguished Young Women set foot off our flights and were welcomed by the Azalea Trail Maids to this beautiful city, the residents of Mobile have met us with open arms and a good dosage of southern hospitality, and have made each and every one of us feel like a part of the Mobile family!
Excitement was mounting today as we began this busy week of practicing, sight-seeing, and performing. We started the morning off with a surprise visit from our Has Been big sisters (young women who participated in the program last year and are back to assist with the program again this year), and all of us were so excited to meet these lovely girls! After a delicious breakfast, we all filed into the auditorium of the Civic Center for the unveiling of the set that will be used for our performances this coming weekend. As the curtain was drawn, all of our jaws dropped as we started to process the magnitude of this production and how much work has gone in to making this show enjoyable for all of the participants and audience members!
After a busy morning of rehearsals as we staged some of our routines, our production groups took turns visiting landmarks from around the city to take pictures that will be featured in a video on the night of our performance. The sun was shining bright, the sky was clear and blue, and we were able to enjoy the beauty of Mobile without our new best friend tropical storm Cindy! Then, we all headed over to Wintzell’s Oyster House to take part in the traditional Distinguished Young Women oyster eating contest! Since they aren’t readily available in Arizona, I had never had an oyster before, so I wasn’t sure I could commit to a competitive platter of oysters, but I cheered loudly for the brave souls who participated, including our winner with 57 oysters, Olivia Pelton from Georgia! Don’t worry, I did try an oyster afterwards, and I can say that the mental preparation was far more difficult than the single swallow it took to eat it. After our delicious lunch, we were surprised to see two duck boats waiting outside to pick us up asked for a better way to spend an hour than driving and boating around with lovely weather, a funny tour guide, some pumping jams, and good dance moves to go along with it. It was probably quite the sight to see two duck boats full of touristy young women singing at the top of their lungs and quacking their duck horns, but we were having the time of our lives!
We were dropped back off at the Civic Center for a few more hours of rehearsal. It was truly amazing to see the way all of the girls were lifting each other up and pushing each other forward despite feeling tired and low energy at times. We got a little break in our rehearsal where we were able to walk over to the Mobile Carnival Museum to learn more about where Mardi Gras really started. On the tour, we learned all about the mystic societies of Mardi Gras and how royalty is decided for the celebration. Although I was a little disappointed to realize that my childhood dreams of being a princess were once again crushed by my not being a part of a mystic society, it was so interesting to learn all about this fun holiday! I will definitely be back for a celebration here in Mobile someday. After throwing some beads off the display float in the museum, we all went back to the Civic Center for a final rehearsal.
Our time in Mobile has been unforgettable so far and we certainly have not allowed tropical storm Cindy to rain on our parade–in fact, Mobile and the people who live here have my heart. I look forward to continuing this journey with the 50 other talented and kind young ladies who I am so lucky to have met here through Distinguished Young Women!