• Long Beach Breeze

Carnival Association of Long Beach gearing up for events

By Will Brown

Carnival Association of Long Beach

The Carnival Association of Long Beach has been a staple of the community since it was founded in 1960 by a small group of mothers at St. Thomas Elementary School; the organization’s roots predate the first Mardi Gras celebration held in the town.

Although best known for the putting together Long Beach’s annual Mardi Gras parade, the Carnival Association’s influence can be seen and felt all throughout Long Beach.

For Lynn Mulherin, Carnival ties run deep in her family. Mulherin has worked on many teams throughout the years to organize the events, and she has several family members who have been named to the Carnival court. In 1982, her brother and cousin were named Royal Pages to King Christian and Queen Christina, and her sister Leigh Seal was Queen Rosalie in 2009. In 2020, Mulherin’s niece Blakely Hammons was named Princess for Carnival Association of Long Beach, the first princess to ever be on the court. Mulherin, who is a candidate for 2022’s Queen Rosalie, said she would like people to know that carnival is more than just Mardi Gras parades.

“Carnival is building community. It is families coming together to have fun at family-friendly events that raise money for people in need.” said Mulherin. “Carnival is a year-round event that never stops. It becomes part of your everyday life.”

The Carnival Association seeks to raise money for non-profit organizations that help benefit Long Beach and the surrounding area. This mission of service and community dates back to the founding of the Carnival Association, a group of St. Thomas Elementary School mothers who recognized the need for betterment of education. This group was known as the St. Thomas Mother’s Club, and a contest was held to choose names for the King and Queen. The names selected for the winners were Scott and Rosalie, which payed homage to Long Beach’s original name; Scott’s Station and Rosalie. The name was officially changed to Carnival Association of Long Beach in 1964, and, by 1979, they had spread all along the coast and gained chartered status as a tax-exempt charitable organization.

Those who wish to be considered for King Scott and Queen Rosalie have to go through a series of applications and a rigorous set of interviews. Candidates are expected to attend and help plan all the events, and volunteer whenever they have the opportunity.

“It’s a creative outlet. A new group of friends that you will have for the rest of your life,” Mulherin said. “Once you become involved, you never want to stop finding new and creative ways to raise money for nonprofit organizations. It is a lot of hard work and dedication from many people.”

Ray & Mulherin

Contrary to popular belief, candidates for King and Queen are not required to be Catholic, and the main criteria for selection is doing anything and everything one can to help put on the carnival event. Once selected, the King and Queen are responsible for planning events, selling advertisements and working to secure sponsorships and donations. The coronation is held at the main ball in February, and the theme for the ball is usually announced around December. Applications for King and Queen are due by the end of June, and a kick off bottle party is held in August, where guests bring liquor, soda, and orange juice to raise funds for the Carnival Ball. Between the kickoff party and the ball, volunteers host events for holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, partnering with St. Vincent De Paul School to host family-friendly events. This upcoming year marks the first ever “Jeep-A-Gras” Parade, set to be held in downtown Long Beach on January 30, one of many January events Mulherin’s team holds, along with a fashion show, talent show, and royal tea for past queens.

Throughout the year, the Carnival Association puts together events meant to both raise money and contribute to other charitable causes. The Carnival Association raises money to benefit the Boys and Girls Club, Pink Heart, Morning Star, Recreational Sports, and other non-profits. This year, they are hosting “Nightmare on Jeff Davis Avenue” on October 30, an event meant to be fall festival type event ending with an event called “Jeep-O-Treat.

Long Beach Event Schedule

“The event is not a moneymaker, but more for the community to come together and enjoy the evening with their friends and families,” Mulherin said.

Carnival 2021 was canceled due to the COVID pandemic, and, while Mulherin is optimistic the event will return to normal in 2022, she acknowledges the virus is unpredictable and all plans can be subject to change. Mulherin said Long Beach was devastated to not be able to have the event earlier this year because of what it means to the community.

“Carnival is Long Beach. Long Beach lives and breathes Carnival events,” Mulherin said. Since Long Beach is such a tight-knit community, Mulherin says Carnival gives the whole town something to look forward to.

“We look forward to it, because it’s family,” Mulherin said. “Long Beach is its own little family, and, when any Carnival event comes along, we all get to come together and be family again; so it’s huge for us.”

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