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Red Hot Mamas of North Idaho disband after more than 3 decades of entertainment

The Red Hot Mamas officially ended Dec. 31, 2021, at the behest of founding Mama Mikki Stevens.
Credit: CDA Press

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The group that has exploited merriment and enhanced the ridiculous in North Idaho and around the world for three decades is hanging up its bedazzled dancing shoes and corralling its sequined shopping carts, as reported by KREM 2's news partner the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press

The Red Hot Mamas officially ended Dec. 31, 2021, at the behest of founding Mama Mikki Stevens, who sent a New Year's Eve email to the Mamas mailing list detailing a series of serious health issues that led to the decision.

Stevens has lived with lymphoma for several years. She is now facing devastating ailments as well as the blood cell condition pancytopenia, which renders her defenseless against COVID-19 and other infections.

"So many wonderful friends and loved ones are contacting me daily," Stevens wrote in her email. "Your cards, kind thoughts, and prayer of solid gold. TU! I love you."

In 1991, Stevens founded a unique performance group that would earn international acclaim. The Red Hot Mamas has been a crowd favorite for parades, festivals, fundraisers, and other community events since it burst onto the scene in a spray of glitter and charisma.

In wigs, bespangled granny glasses, and hats topped with grocery boxes, the Mamas welcomed women ages 18 and older who were willing to put in the leg work to dance with shopping carts and spread joy farther than the feathers from their pink boas could fly.

"I believe the Red Hot Mamas have enjoyed a fantastic, unsurpassed ride of bringing joy, hope, and fun to the lives of so many," Karen Welts, a Mama for nearly 25 years, said Tuesday evening.

All good things eventually come to an end, she said, but the lives touched by Stevens and the Red Hot Mamas will never end.

If Stevens isn't at the helm, "it’s time for this good thing to come to an end," Welts said.

"I’ve said so many times, many might try to duplicate, but without (Stevens') input and love of touching lives in performing, it could never be the same."

Stevens is known to encourage those around her to "shine on!" She and her merry Mamas have shined locally as well as on the international stage. Their resume impressively sparkles with these parades: Coeur d'Alene's Hometown Heroes Fourth of July; Philadelphia Independence Day; Hershey Centennial; Fiesta and Holiday Bowl; Seattle Seafair; Dallas Christmas Parades; Spokane's Lilac Festival; two U.S. Presidential Inaugurations; and three Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades.

"Of course, this is a very difficult and sad end to my Red Hot Mamas experience," Cindy Westwood said. Westwood joined in 2017 to dance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, "which was a blast, along with 50 other ladies including my daughter, Lindsey."

"I treasure my time dancing and serving our community under the godly genius of Mikki Stevens," Westwood said. "Her creativity in costume design and dance routines was limitless."

Their hearts are as big as their performances. The Mamas have contributed to the Red Cross Relief Fund, Governor's Roundtable, Habitat for Humanity, American Cancer Society, Special Olympics, United Way, Idaho Peace Officers, food banks, and Relay for Life, to name a few.

Honors for the Red Hot Mamas include the Veterans of Foreign Wars Americanism Award; the Medal of Merit from the Lord Mayor of Westminster, London, England; Commendation from the President of the United Sates; first-place honors nationally; and the group has been entered into the Congressional Record.

One last hurrah is in store for the Mamas. The troupe is expected to travel to Ireland to perform in Limerick’s 2022 St. Patrick's Day Parade, a dream that was dashed in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Stevens has begun the search for someone to replace her as leader of the Ireland trip, someone who:

• Has proven leadership skills

• Has Red Hot Mamas experience

• Is available to oversee rehearsals Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-8 p.m., beginning Tuesday and going through March 8

• Is able to devote March 11-19 to being present on the trip, available to the Mamas and not preoccupied with other business or projects

• Is willing to keep itinerary on track with tour guides

Additional information is available upon request. Email rhmamas@aol.com for details.

"Even though Mikki's leadership has ended, I know there are ladies still planning to go to Ireland," Westwood said. "Mikki always had a contingency plan in the case she was unable to go. Unfortunately, I have health issues that are not allowing me to do the trip as I had hoped. Mikki has been at the helm under the shadow of cancer for years. She truly is an inspiration to me!"

Stevens wrote that she is thankful for medical personnel, love all around her, celebrating her 51st wedding anniversary and that God is in control.

"My physical well-being is a wreck, yet...IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL," she wrote. "We trust God absolutely. We value prayer above all."

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here 

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