Mardi Gras (also known as Carnival) celebrations take place all across the world in accordance with the religious Lenten Season. America’s Mardi Gras roots lie in the port city of Mobile, Alabama. The city’s Southern Live Oak trees and buzzing nightlife make for a fitting Mardi Gras setting that Taylor and I couldn’t pass up.
We caught our first parade of the weekend at the corner of South Broad and Canal Street after a short walk from our Selma street Airbnb. The Mobile Mystics, Mobile Mystic Revelers, and Mobile Mystical Friends were showing off their floats as bystanders yelled and reached for Moon Pies, Oatmeal Creme pies, various trinkets, and unnumbered types of beads.
Local high school bands, dance groups, and community organizations marched and entertained between floats. Occasionally, a customized go-kart or truck would fill the space between floats with loud music and revving engines.
Once the parade finished, Taylor and I walked on broken beads down Government street to find a place to socialize before our next parade. We stopped into O’Daly’s Irish Pub and found seats on the patio. A Mardi Gras concoction later, a Talking Heads song lured us into the Brick Yard. We enjoyed the bar’s fantastic playlist and friendly atmosphere until it was time to hit the streets for the next parade.
The Maids of Mirth, Butterfly Maidens, and Krewe of Marry Mates made their way down the route and had the Mobile crowd buzzing with excitement. Many more people than earlier in the day were crowded against the parade barriers, and they were a much more lively bunch. The crowd had gathered for a reason. The floats were more impressive, seemed to be larger, and were carrying a more diverse array of goods to be thrown into the crowd. The late parade is a must if your goal is to truly experience Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebration.
The short weekend in Mobile couldn’t have provided a better feel for the city’s Mardi Gras tradition. Taylor and I got to spend time among the people of Mobile, and we ran into out-of-towners who were drawn to the celebration. While New Orleans may be known for its Mardi Gras celebration, the people of Mobile have a historic tradition of their own to claim.