By: Gracie King | Feature Editor
Photo by: Michael Dunn | Photographer
Moon pies, plastic beads, high-energy parades, crazy masks, and elegant balls are finally back in season as Mardi Gras quickly approaches. For some students, this will be their first time experiencing the lively and historical event. For others, this will be a welcomed break of fun and festivities. Here, you can find some resources for an amazing Mardi Gras experience!
Before you take to the streets for a week of parades and partying, it’s important to know the history behind Mardi Gras and how it pertains to Mobile. According to History.com, the history of Mardi Gras likely began as an ancient pagan celebration of fertility and the coming spring season. It quickly became associated with the period preceding the Christian holiday Lent, when practicing Christians could drink, eat meat and party before the penitential season.
If you live in Alabama, you’ve probably heard locals boasting left and right about how the first-ever Mardi Gras celebration in North America took place right here in Mobile. According to History.com, the oldest North-American Mardi Gras celebration was thrown in 1699 by explorer Pierre le Moyne d’Iberville when he set up camp in Mobile before arriving at his final destination of New Orleans.
Now that you know more about the history, it’s time for a little prep work. When I was a freshman, I had no idea what days to go to parades, where to go, or if I should bring anything with me. Not being prepared for Mardi Gras in Mobile is like rolling the dice and expecting a win.
The City of Mobile website provides citizens with an up-to-date schedule of events for Mardi Gras celebrations. You can find maps and parking information on this site as well. The Mobile Mask magazine offers information on the various Mobile Mardi Gras societies, their ball schedule, and how to potentially get invited to one.
When it’s time to hit the parades, consider bringing a small backpack with a few basic essentials like a rain poncho, snacks, a bottle of water, a discreet place for cash/cards and your ID, extra masks/hand sanitizer, and anything else you might need for an afternoon on the streets of Mobile. For all of your accessorizing needs, visit Toomey’s Mardi Gras store before your first parade.
If you’re not into the party scene, there’s lots of interesting Mardi Gras-themed history throughout Mobile. In downtown Mobile, you can find the Carnival Museum and learn more about the art of Mardi Gras parades and costumes. Several restaurants and art galleries, like Felix’s Fish Camp and Sophiella Art Gallery, display Mardi Gras-themed art made by locals. The culture is all around the city during the week of Mardi Gras, so start planning!