Mardi Gras festivities in downtown Mobile mean streets filled with the sounds of live marching bands, floats, crowds of parade goers and much more.
This pre-Lenten celebration will last for over two weeks culminating on Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday. Almost nightly for the duration of the season, brightly lit, brilliantly colored, paper mache’ floats will take to the streets. These glowing spectacles are manned by costumed revelers in satin and sequins complete with full-face masks and armed with such throws as beads, moonpies, doubloons, and candy. In between each of these will delight from tunes of local high school marching bands.
The city of Mobile boasts the oldest Mardi Gras in North America. As a major holiday in parts of Europe and South America, the celebration dates back to 1703 when the tiny French colony of Mobile observed North America’s first Mardi Gras. There is no doubt that these early revelers kept the feast with whatever food and drink they had. However the first mystic societies were not formed until 1830. The Cowbellion de Rakin society took loudly to the streets in 1703 armed with rakes, hoes and cowbells plundered from a hardware store. Although they marched on New Year’s Eve and not Fat Tuesday, they were a mystic society and true antecedent of Mardi Gras in Mobile. The stress of the Civil War brought an end to the annual festivities in Mobile.