Right smack in the middle of Valentine's weekend, we can't forget about Mardi Gras! Many people don't realize that the first Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States were not in New Orleans, but in Mobile, Alabama , in the 1700s, while still under French rule. Today, all the small towns around the Mobile Bay area have their own Krewes who put on parades each year. Thousands of people line the streets for these "family-friendly" parades, and they're great fun. We have a second home in Fairhope, Alabama, which has many parades during the season. My husband, son and son-in-law are members of a Krewe and get to ride on a float every year. They say it's the closest they'll ever come to being rock stars, as they ride through the streets, throwing beads, toys and Moon Pies. My pictures aren't great. But, hopefully, they'll give you some idea of the color and pageantry and fun of a small-town Mardi Gras celebration.