This Alabama Bed and Breakfast Inn near the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay is gearing up for the Mardi Gras season. It’s time again to get out the masks and beads and doubloons. Daily parades through “Fat Tuesday”
In 1703 the tiny French colony of Mobile observed North America’s first Mardi Gras, 15 years before New Orleans was founded. The stress of the Civil War brought an end to the annual festivities in Mobile.
On Fat Tuesday in 1866, Joseph Stillwell Cain set out to raise the spirits of the locals. He climbed aboard a decorated coal wagon pulled by a mule and held a one-float parade through the streets of Mobile. He is remembered each year on Joe Cain Day, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday also known as “the people’s day”.
Several common images or phrases appear during the Mardi Gras season:
- The faces of Comedy and Tragedy: the smiling and frowning theater faces;
- Feathered masks: with fluffy feathers attached at the edges;
- Fleur de Lis: the French symbol from the time Mobile was the capital of the French colony
- “Let the good times roll!” (French: Laissez les bons temps rouler! )
- “Throw me something, Mister!”: shouted by a parade viewer.
- The Moon Pie chant, heard along the parade routes as crowds chant “Moon Pie! Moon Pie!”
Mobile had the largest Mardi Gras in its history following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mardi Gras in Mobile continues to be a popular local and tourist tradition with strong turn outs. The 2007 Mardi Gras season in Mobile was attended by nearly 0.9 million people, with police estimating the overall attendance at 878,000 and a crowd of 105,600 along the streets for the Fat Tuesday finale.