We spent the weekend down in Mobile (pronouned Mo-Beel) and happened to be there for the great time of Mardi Gras. If you going to do Mardi Gras than the best place to be is here because this is where Mardi Gras started. While many assume that Mardi Gras first started in the streets of New Orleans, it was actually here in Alabama and then spread out through the rest of the south from there. Mardi Gras is similar to Carnival. And at least down here in Mobile lasts for a couple of months between January and March. Mardi Gras is the big business around here.
Walking along Government Street in the historic downtown every house was decorated in glittery gold, green, and purple. A lifelong resident of Mobile told us that Christmas decorations on houses are far more simple compared to the outlandish and elaborate decorations for Mardi Gras. Every house along the parade routes are bedecked in the Mardi Gras flare and they call it ‘Yardi Gras’. Yardi Gras became an even bigger phenomena during the last couple of years when other activities were being canceled.
Also there on Government Street is the official Carnival Museum, which ironically is not open during the festivities. The museum is usually so booked up with Mardi Gras balls that at some point they just made a blanket statement that it would be closed to the public during the Mardi Gras season.
But more so than the museum, the most popular place to get into the spirit is at the Mardi Gras store- Toomey’s Mardi Gras Store. This store is an Mobile institution where people shop for Mardi Gras supplies all year long. We heard from multiple people that we had to visit Toomey’s and stock up on things for the parades, the parties, the contests, and everything else this time of year.
After getting into the Mardi Gras spirit we were ready to see a Mardi Gras parade. There are literally hundreds of parades throughout Mardi Gras. Just about everywhere in town will have packets of papers with the lists of the different parades and the routes they take through the city. The weekends will have 3 or 4 parades and with each one the streets are blocked off to make way for the parade. Each parade has a fun name such as the order of the polka dot parade, the mystic pharaoh parade, the butterfly fairy parade, and other such cute names. We went to the Bayport Mystic DJ Riders parade in the afternoon. It was nothing short of the greatest parade I’ve ever been to.
Each of the parade floats are covered in pegs with thousands of beaded necklaces hanging from them. Beads were tossed handfuls at a time to the onlookers. I knew that at Mardi Gras parades the people on the floats threw beaded necklaces. But what I didn’t know was that they also throw a lot of candy, toys, drinks, frisbees, plastic cups, water bottles, etc. By the time we left Tessa had 5 new stuffed animals and the rest of us had armfuls of snacks, drinks, and other things.
We ended our Mardi Gras by sharing a traditional King Cake. Much like a massive cinnamon roll with Mardi Gras sprinkles on top and a little plastic Baby Jesus sitting on top. A very sweet end to a very colorful experience.
We had such a great time celebrating Mardi Gras here where it began in the states. Alabama keeps proving it a state of great surprises for us and being there for Mardi Gras was one such surprise.
For more surprising places around Alabama, check out :
Thanks for coming along with us around Mobile for Mardi Gras. Where is the best place you’ve celebrated Mardi Gras or Carnival?