Photo by Asia Morris.
For the past eight years, Shoreline Village has crowned a Mardi Gras King and Queen prior to the parade and this year’s coronation on Monday night at Parker’s Lighthouse in Shoreline Village had all the bells and whistles.
Past kings and queens have been well known members of the Long Beach community, such as Mayor Robert Garcia and Vice-Mayor Suja Lowenthal, whom were crowned in 2015 and Cheri Bazley, executive director of Long Beach Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald himself, whom were crowned in 2016, when the coronation and parade benefited the Long Beach Ronald McDonald House.
This year, assisting and raising awareness of Long Beach’s homeless was the focal point of the ceremony, which benefited three local nonprofits: Beacon for Him, the city’s Multi-Service Center for the Homeless and Long Beach Rescue Mission. $500 was also given to Justin Rudd's Community Action Team (CAT).
During the parade on February 25, Shoreline Village will be collecting cans of coffee that will go to the aforementioned service centers, as well as CAT, while anyone who brings a jumbo can of coffee will receive two hours of free parking, said Debra Fixen, general manager of Shoreline Village for the last three years.
“I’m really strong into giving back to the community and being part of the community, so I’ve used this event and some of our others to bring awareness to some type of nonprofit,” she said.
This year’s King and Queen, esteemed writer and community advocate Brian Addison and Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, are both major advocates for Long Beach’s homeless population.
Most recently, Addison was one of the speakers who advocated for the homeless at Justin Rudd’s Compassionate Town Hall: Homelessness in Long Beach, an event that saw more than 600 people in attendance, while Pearce has acknowledged homelessness as “a chronic problem that Long Beach hasn’t faced in years.”
“Honestly, it’s humbling on any level to be recognized by the people you respect—but the most incredible aspect of all this is the event’s focus on homelessness,” said Addison. “Shannon’s work at Beacon for Him, the incredible way in which the MSC has connected countless folks experiencing homelessness to services, and the Rescue Mission’s continual dedication to giving warmth—literally and spiritually—is part of what makes our city a great place.”
Pearce has organized a Homeless Day of Action and formed a group of nonprofits, small business owners, residents and experts in the field to face the issue. During Mayor Robert Garcia’s special city council session in October of last year addressing homelessness, Pearce also called for more actions to be done by the city.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be crowned queen of the Long Beach Mardi Gras,” said Pearce. “It’s a unique opportunity where we have businesses partnering in a very big way with nonprofits to raise awareness about issues around homelessness.”
“The organizations that we’re supporting today do an immense amount of work and the outcome is always appreciated, but we want to go bigger,” Pearce continued. “So how do we take a model like today and go bigger with it? I really look forward to the next year of raising awareness of those issues and partnership with Shoreline Village.”
The Long Beach Mardi Gras Parade starts at 3:00PM at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Saturday, February 25. For parade details, visit the webpage here.