Let the good times roll!
While a few thousand Nevada County residents eagerly look forward to the Mardi Gras-oriented parade every year in downtown Nevada City, no one has given their business a name as a direct consequence of being in the parade.
Unless you happen to be Shawn Mathews, who six years ago chose “Windy Man Productions” as the name of his Nevada City advertising agency specializing in print media and e-commerce Web sites.
“I named my business after my character in the parade,” Mathews laughed Monday. “I work downtown. Most people know me as the windy guy or windy man – they don’t know my name.”
During the annual Mardi Gras parade, Mathews, who grew up break dancing to Michael Jackson’s songs and still loves to dance, pretends he is surviving an intense windstorm.
“My act is a guy in a business suit, being blown back, I have an umbrella inverted, I’m fighting the wind. The moonwalking I do is like I’m walking into the wind,” said Mathews, who is usually placed next to music groups in the parade. “I’ve rigged up my business suit like it’s blowing in the wind, my tie flies up, newspapers are blowing around me.”
His shtick, which the 36-year-old also performs at the Fourth of July parades, comes easily to him.
“The first time I did it was at a Fright Night, maybe six years ago,” Mathews reminisced. “I needed a costume, it was cheap – cost me $10. I didn’t really practice and I won first place; I got a lifetime membership to KVMR.”
In anticipation of this Sunday’s Mardi Gras parade, Mathews recently dusted off his costume. This parade, according to Mathews, is the best in-town parade.
“This is the first time I actually signed up. (Parade coordinator) George Harper saw me at the post office and asked me to sign up and be official for once,” said Mathews, who briefly considered skipping this year’s parade. He planned to be in sunny Costa Rica instead this weekend.
“I primarily do the parade because I get so many calls. People stop me on the streets, and I get so much pressure from them that I agree to do it,” added Mathews, who rearranged his vacation to begin after this weekend.
Sunday’s parade will be one-third larger than last year’s parade since the number of entries has jumped from 30 to 40, Harper noted last Friday.
This year’s higher number includes three times as much music, with six music groups instead of last year’s two groups. Funk ‘n’ Fusion, Petting Zoo, Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band (from Sacramento), Lyman Gilmore School Band, California Consolidated Fife and Drum (from Chico) and General DooDah’s Kazoo Band will entertain with music along the parade route.
Other entries include a fire-eating dragon, Foothills Swing Society dancers, local politicians, musician Jonathan Meredith sans his guitar and on stilts instead as Samurai Sam, and Merry Widows (participating annually since 1993).
Serving as color guard, Vietnam Veterans of America launches the parade at 2 p.m. on upper Broad Street.
Besides 300 Meltdown participants also expected to walk the parade route, the Auburn-based Sugar Plump Fairies, which Harper calls the other side of Meltdown, will join in the festivities.
“I think they’re a bunch of women out to have a good time,” observed Harper, who hasn’t seen the Auburn representatives before. “We’re thrilled to death to have a lot of people. The more the merrier.”
While last year’s parade lasted about 90 minutes, Harper was hesitant to give any time estimates for Sunday.
“It depends how slow they are handing out beads and how much they dance down the streets,” Harper joked.
Besides the beads, parade spectators will be bombarded with thousands of Mardi Gras trinkets, coins and Moon Pies tossed by parade entries.
KNOW AND GO:
WHAT: Mardi Gras Parade
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Downtown Nevada City on Broad Street
TIP: Glass containers are not allowed at the parade.
WHAT: Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball with music by Miss Freida and the Cajun Fusiliers
WHEN: Saturday from 8 p.m. until midnight
WHERE: Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St., Nevada City
ADMISSION: $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Tickets at the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce office, 132 Main St. Open to anyone 21-and-older
OPTIONAL DINNER: An all-you-can-eat seafood dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. is $35. Tickets at the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce office, 132 Main St.
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