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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Red Hot Mamas extraordinarily fun

The Spokesman-Review

The Red Hot Mamas have been Coeur d’Alene’s goodwill ambassadors for a dozen years.

In that time, the zany women have paraded before a president and throngs in London, marched at bowl games, and helped raised tens of thousands of dollars for local charities and worthy causes. If the mamas or their organization were wealthy, they could spend almost every weekend winning hearts and fans by strutting their stuff from coast to coast. Such is the demand for their talents.

President Bush and organizers of his second inauguration, for example, were so impressed with the Red Hot Mamas that they invited them back for a second performance. Thirty-seven members of Lake City’s famous parade contingent will represent Idaho in the parade part of the Jan. 20 event. Mama founder Mikki Stevens told The Spokesman-Review she was giddy at the prospect of the president personally approving her group after watching the Mamas’ audition tape in the Oval Office.

Obviously, the president appreciates the same things about the Red Hot Mamas that parade goers throughout the Inland Northwest do: The parade entry is entertaining, fun-loving, energetic and special. Since 1992, the Mamas have entertained parade goers with various drills as they push shopping carts, decked out in washer-woman duds and their trademark hats, topped with cereal boxes, potato chip bags, peanut butter jars and sundry other grocery items. The Mamas are special because they work hard to perfect their routine. And they remain committed to Stevens’ original goal of having fun, spoofing their middle-age shortcomings, and making people happy.

Many people deserve credit for making the Mamas a perennial favorite at the Coeur d’Alene Fourth of July parade and beyond, including those who organize their mass travel to as far away as London, raise funds and attend regular weekly workouts. But the Mamas wouldn’t have gone anywhere without Stevens’ dream, daring and determination. After all, this is a group that sprung to life in 1992 from Stevens’ eye-catching advertisement: “Thunder thighs welcome, Ladies 30 and above, mamas, grandmamas, great-grandmamas or just plain great. Ever want to perform? No experience necessary.”

From a ragtag group of friends that Stevens persuaded to wear goofy clothes and join her in Coeur d’Alene’s 1992 Independence Day parade, the Red Hot Mamas evolved into a North Idaho sensation, an antidote for the black eye bestowed on the region by the Aryan Nations. No one who could perform was turned away. Illustrating this point, the Mamas are led down parade routes by a double amputee in a wheelchair who uses a toilet plunger as a baton. She epitomizes the Mamas who have overcome life’s difficulties and enjoy themselves.

The Mamas are ordinary women who have achieved something extraordinary. The Coeur d’Alene area is better off because they have allowed us to join in the fun.