With Fat Tuesday right around the corner, it is the perfect time for us to get out and enjoy a February party, and Alabama has its own share of Mardi Gras festivities.
Here in the Tennessee Valley, Huntsville and Decatur host Mardi Gras celebrations, but nothing beats a quick trip down to the home of Mardi Gras – Mobile, AL (bet you thought I was going to say New Orleans).
So, to get started on planning your trip with these must-know facts about Mardi Gras in Mobile.
Mardi Gras Road Trip
- The first organized Mardi Gras in America was in 1703 in the settlement known as Fort Louis de la Louisiane, now known as Mobile.
- The traditional Mardi Gras colors for Mobile are purple and gold. The purple stands for justice and the gold for power. The green that you see in some celebrations originated in New Orleans and represents faith.
- You may have heard the word “krewe,” the term for a group of like-minded people who celebrate Mardi Gras by either presenting a parade or hosting a ball, or both. Many times, these are non-profit groups that use the events as fundraisers. In Mobile, “krewes” are referred to as Mystic Societies, the first of which formed for Mardi Gras in 1704.
- Like the Crescent City (New Orleans), Mobile hosts several different parades over the course of Mardi Gras, but the parades are much more family friendly. You may have heard about people in New Orleans who “flash” body parts in hopes paraders will throw beads or trinkets, but that is not part of the parades in Mobile.
- Mobile’s Joe Cain Parade (Feb. 7, 2016) is named for the man credited with bringing Mardi Gras back to Mobile following a hiatus. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Mardi Gras festivities ended, but in 1867 confederate veteran Joe Cain, dressed as a garish Chickasaw Indian Chief, led his friends in a noisy parade on Fat Tuesday to annoy the Union soldiers still occupying the town. Cain called the group the Lost Cause Minstrels, and they are today an important part of the Mobile Mardi Gras mythology.
- The many balls held during Mardi Gras in Mobile cater to many different tastes, so if you have scored an invitation to a ball, be sure to check if it is “costume de rigueur” which means the ball has a strict dress code. One last thing about the Mardi Gras balls: It is not good form to be fashionably late, because the mystic societies perform what is known as a tableau to open the events, and entrance is forbidden once it begins.
So, with your newfound information in hand, I hope that you will pick out at least one parade and plan a quick trip down to the true home of Mardi Gras – Mobile, Alabama.
Just be sure to make it back for our parade here.
P.S. Be sure to eat and share the King Cake…..