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In The News

Under I-10, campers are happy

Source: Mobile Register, Alabama
Publish Date: Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Summary: Every year at Carnival, nearly 200 recreational vehicles set up camp underneath Interstate 10 by Fort Conde as well as at the Mobile Civic Center parking lot.

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'RV City' is annual event on the fringes of Carnival locales

Give them parking spaces, and they will come.

Every year at Carnival, nearly 200 recreational vehicles set up camp underneath Interstate 10 by Fort Conde as well as at the Mobile Civic Center parking lot.

Dubbed "RV City" by some residents and city of Mobile officials, the temporary settlement is a full-time home for some and a convenient place to sleep for others.

"It's like a big party and a city where you know all your neighbors," said Cindy Eubanks, who has been spending Mardi Gras in RV City since it was founded in 2002.

RV owners pay $275 for a parking spot, and there is a waiting list in case someone renting one of the 183 spots decides they don't want to return next year.

The city of Mobile and the state highway department split the profit from below

I-10, which is state-owned land, and the city takes in the money for Civic Center spaces.

If RV City had its own municipal government, it would be the husband-and-wife team of Ike and Peggy Jimenez.

In 2003, when the city banned campers from parking along city streets during Carnival, the Jimenezes went to work organizing an area for RVs, Peggy Jimenez said.

They take reservations, and Ike Jimenez's construction company cleans up the debris, spreads gravel and paints the parking lines every winter before the campers start rolling in.

The city gives Jimenez the material, but otherwise the couple do all the work, gratis.

"We probably spend $8,000 a year," Peggy said with a chuckle. "We don't even get our trailer space free."

Most of the campers belong to people who live in or near Mobile, she said. About a half-dozen families live in the lot for the whole Carnival period, she said, but most only use it for the weekend or after specific balls.

That's what Sam and Cindy Eubanks do. The Silverhill couple usually park their camper the Wednesday before the Conde Cavaliers parade and come back every weekend thereafter.

On a recent afternoon, Cindy Eubanks sat outside her vehicle with her two dogs, a husky-Labrador mix named Colby and a white Labrador named Junior, at her feet.

The campers are arranged so that there's often an open area enclosed by vehicles on each side. Eubanks sat in this outdoor living room and sipped a cold beverage while talking to friends whose RVs surrounded hers.

She said her husband wears earplugs to block out the noise of the cars driving overhead, but that otherwise they love it. They'll keep coming back "as long as the city lets us stay," she said.

"You can drink, and you don't have to drive," she said. "You can go to balls and walk back. It's a good way to have fun without getting into trouble."

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