Mudbugs: Creepy-crawly crustaceans that dwell in the mud, but taste divine.

Pirates, duck hunters and college mascots—even a 6-foot red, velour, bespectacled crawfish—joined Crawfish Mambo this year, the alumni association’s new signature event.

“One of my favorite parts of Mambo was seeing the positive impression that it—and The Cove, Sandbar and Lakefront campus—made on so many people from the greater New Orleans community and beyond,” says Pam Meyer, executive director of the association.  “What a great advertisement for UNO!”

The promise of all-you-can-eat crawfish and big-time musical acts drew more than 2,500 visitors in mid-May for the Second Annual Crawfish Mambo Cook-off and Music Festival on the Lake. The event included performances by Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, New Orleans Night Crawlers, Glen Andrews, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, and the UNO Jazz All-Stars. An art walk at The Cove on Founders Road also featured artists and vendors.

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Boiling teams brought their own boiling kits, equipment and secret recipes. The alumni association provided 83 sacks of crawfish, weighing in at more than 7,400 pounds.

Twenty boiling teams vied for top prize in the “Best of Boil” Mambo Championship, which promised an engraved boiling paddle to the winners. A panel of celebrity judges chose the grand champion and other winners through a blind taste test, followed by a review of booths for creativity and presentation.

Association board member Todd Tournillion captained the championship team, which was made up of employees from the accounting firm Postlethwaite & Netterville.

The second place team, captained by alumnus Brandon Mouriz, hailed from Carubba Engineering, last year’s champion. Pluckin’ Tails, led by UNO Assistant Director of External Relations for Athletics Brandon Rizzuto, claimed third place and the coveted Crowd Favorite award. The team wore camouflage and decorated their booth with palm fronds to resemble a duck blind.

Pirates of Da Bayou, one of three teams sponsored by Waldemar S. Nelson and Company, Inc., won Best Booth. The professional engineers wore bandanas, eye patches and other pirate gear to serve up crawfish from a ship.

Students also showed that they could mambo. Outgoing Student Government President Laura Siu, who graduated in May, recruited Vietnamese-American Student Association members from Loyola and Tulane Universities, as well as the University of Mississippi, University of Alabama and other Gulf Coast schools.

The event raised more than $25,000.

Proceeds will help the alumni association expand ongoing initiatives designed to help UNO students gain professional

development skills, says Meyer. An alumni role model program, the biannual “Dine Like a Professional” etiquette seminar for seniors, résumé review workshops and scholarships with mentorship and internship components, such as the Students4HIGHER program started by alumni Barry and Teresa LeBlanc, will
all benefit.

To help, email pameyer@uno.edu.