R.L. Crabb, The Union cartoonist, named grand marshal for Nevada City Mardi Gras Parade | TheUnion.com

R.L. Crabb, The Union cartoonist, named grand marshal for Nevada City Mardi Gras Parade

R.L."Bob" Crabb and Mary Ann Crabb, donning Mardi Gras costumes, show off a cartoon version of themselves on Thursday.
Teresa Yinmeng Liu/tliu@theunion.com |

Know & Go

What: Mardi Gras Parade and Street Faire

Where: Downtown Nevada City

When: 2 p.m. Sunday, with street fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You might recognize him as one of the main characters in his popular cartoon series, “It takes a Village Idiot,” in The Union. But on Sunday, this familiar face will head a procession of revelers and floats down Broad Street.

“It’s a great honor,” said R.L. “Bob” Crabb.

The Nevada County native and editorial cartoonist at The Union has been selected as the grand marshal of the 24th annual Mardi Gras Parade.

“We just tried to think of someone who has done a lot for the community,” said Cathy Whittlesey, an organizer for the event and the executive director at the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

“Bob has done a lot of art works for Mardi Gras for free. He did the logo on our poster, he did our T-shirt logo as well, and he has always been involved.”Cathy Whittleseyexecutive director at the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

“Bob has done a lot of art works for Mardi Gras for free,” Whittlesey added. “He did the logo on our poster, he did our T-shirt logo as well, and he has always been involved.”

Crabb, 65, said his first newspaper cartoon appeared the day after Ronald Reagan was elected. He has worked at numerous publications over the years, including Weirdo, Rip Off Comix, Grateful Dead Comix, Snarf, Loompanics Live in Las Vegas, The Comics Journal, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

But he said he didn’t become a visual storyteller for local publications until the 1980s. He started with Nevada City Independent, and rotated his way through the Nevada City Mountain Messenger as well as the Nevada City News.

Crabb landed a job at The Union in 1994 as a daily cartoonist. He still produces two drawings per week for the paper, offering tart and creative commentary to happenings in town and in the rest of the nation.

The Mardi Gras parade begins at 2 p.m. in downtown Nevada City. It is the highlight of a weekend of activities that have continued to attract thousands of visitors to town for the last 24 years.

What has been billed as the “biggest and best (Mardi Gras) outside of the south” kicks off Saturday with a voodoo themed costume ball at Miners Foundry. The party, which runs from 8 p.m. to midnight, gives visitors a chance to enjoy Cajun-style cuisine while being blasted by music performed by Holcomb Brothers Band.

The Nevada Union High School football team will place blockades along Broad Street as early as 12:30 p.m. Sunday to get ready for the parade. Whittlesey said she has received as many as 25 entries for the parade.

A new addition to the procession is four marching heads, which will be worn by students of the Sierra College Art Club. Whittlesey said these characters are the work of local artist H. David Wagner. She hopes this will become a staple part of the annual celebration.

A street fair will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to that, revelers will be treated to a family-oriented carnevale at the Miners Foundry from 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Whittlesey anticipates at least 2,000 Mardi Gras enthusiasts to rub shoulders in Nevada City this weekend.

“It’s a fun time, everyone loves it,” said Whittlesey said.

For Crabb, this weekend will probably prove to a very memorable experience.

The veteran cartoonist will be sharing a ride with his wife Mary Ann, a leader of the Merry Widow Society of California. The group has been involved in organizing the local Mardi Gras festival since its inception in Nevada City in 1993.

“I am just riding in the chariot because he asked me,” said Mary Ann Crabb, who insisted she doesn’t want to steal her husband’s thunder.

The couple said their schedule for this weekend is packed with activities.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Crabb. “It will be fun.”

To view more of Crabb’s work, visit http://www.rlcrabb.com/.

To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, please call 530-477-4236, or email tliu@theunion.com.

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