“Mardi Gras in Mobile: Where It Really Began”

It didn’t take long after we first arrived in Mobile, Alabama, to learn that Mardi Gras actually began in Mobile. Mobilians are particularly proud of that fact, even though New Orleans gets all the publicity.

Here’s what the Mobile Chamber of Commerce has to say about it on their website:

General madness overtakes Mobile annually in the months, weeks and days preceding Ash Wednesday as chants of “Moon Pie! Moon Pie!” and “Throw me something Mister!” fills the air in historic Mobile. The rules governing civilized behavior are temporarily suspended…it’s Mardi Gras in “Mobile, the Mother of Mystics.”

New Orleans may have the better known celebration, but Mobile’s was the first and arguably the best. Legend tells us that Mobile’s earliest settlers apparently couldn’t wait to get started. Mobile’s first Mardi Gras celebration dates back to 1703, only one year after the city’s founding. Historians disagree on who was responsible for organizing the celebration. Originally called Boeuf Gras (Fatted Ox), the celebration was one of feasting and revelry on the day preceding Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season which leads to Easter. The celebration, now called Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras Day.

It was in 1857 that the Mobile members of Cowbellian de Rakin Society, formed in 1830 traveled to New Orleans and assisted with the formation of the Crewe of Comus, considered New Orleans’ most prestigious Mardi Gras society. Dozens of mystic societies build colorful Mardi Gras floats and parade through downtown Mobile during the weeks preceding Mardi Gras Day. Masked society members throw doubloons, candies, beads and moon pies to excited crowds that scamper about for the Mardi Gras memorabilia. And Mobile’s celebration is good, safe fun the whole family can enjoy. Enjoy Mardi Gras where it all began, in “Mobile, Mother of Mystics.”

So, on Thursday, 3 February 2005, a group of us went to downtown Mobile and watched the “Striper’s Parade.” We counted at least 15 floats and probably as many or more marching bands throughout the evening. This parade was one of a countless number of them during the weeks preceding Fat Tuesday but it was the only one we had time to attend. It was great fun and we caught hundreds of beads, moon pies and other Mardi Gras goodies thrown from the floats.

The floats were very creative

Some of the street people during Mardi Gras in Mobile

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