Monday, March 7, 2011


Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, is the oldest continual annual Carnival celebration in America, having begun in 1703, over 15 years before New Orleans was founded (1718). Since Mobile was the first capital of French Louisiana (1702), the festival began as a French Catholic tradition, celebrating until the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, until midnight on Mardi Gras day (French for "Fat Tuesday" or Shrove Tuesday). However, Mardi Gras in Mobile now has evolved into a mainstream multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures in Mobile, becoming school holidays for the final Monday and Tuesday (some include Wednesday) regardless of religious affiliation. Although Mobile has traditions of exclusive societies, with formal masked balls and elegant costumes, the celebration has evolved over the past three centuries to become typified by public parades where members of societies, often masked, on floats or horseback toss gifts to the general public.

The masked balls or dances, where non-masked men wear white tie and tails (full dress or costume de rigueur) and the women wear full length evening gowns, are oriented to adults, with some mystic societies treating the balls as an extension of the debutante season of their exclusive social circles. Various nightclubs and local bars offer their own particular events.
Beyond the public parades, Mardi Gras in Mobile involves many various mystic societies, some having begun in 1704, or ending with the Civil War, while new societies were formed every century. Some mystic societies are never seen in public parades, but rather hold invitation-only events for their secret members, with private balls beginning in November.

I thought you might like to see some pictures of some of the floats, before they leave The Barn, where this particular Krewe keeps theirs "under wraps" until time for the parade. Saturday morning is a family viewing party, complete with Mimosas and Bloody Marys!The theme of this parade was "A Night For Toys". There was GI Joe, Nintendo, Tonka, Cabbage Patch Kids, Beanie Babies, Hot Wheels, Mr. Potato Head, Legos, Pez, Play-Doh, etc. All much bigger than life!

Professional float-builders begin right after Easter each year to produce these creations for the following Mardi Gras season.

No, this is not me!


But, this is! Love those Mimosas!

It's very difficult for a non-pro, like myself to get nighttime parade pictures. But, here are a few, including a blurry picture of camesl!---yes, camels!--- in south Alabama!

A parade-watcher!

Another Mardi Gras tradition is eating King Cake.
A king cake (sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings' cake, king's cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras / Carnival. It is popular in the Christmas season (Christmas Eve to Epiphany) in France, Belgium and Switzerland (''galette'' or gâteau des Rois), Portugal (bolo rei), Spain and Spanish America (roscón or rosca de reyes and ''tortell'' in Catalonia), Greece and Cyprus (''vasilopita'') and Bulgaria (banitsa). In the United States, which celebrates Carnival mainly in the Southeastern region, and Louisiana and New Orleans in particular, it is associated with Mardi Gras traditions.
The cake has a small trinket (often a small plastic baby, sometimes said to represent Baby Jesus) inside, and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations (such as buying the cake for the next celebration).
I've never been a big fan of them,since to me, they just tasted like bread with some icing on it. But, then I discovered the ones with cream cheese filling....and raspberry...and blueberry...and... 

And we can't forget the dog parades! This one had several hundred dogs and one cat! There was even a King and Queen---canine version! Proceeds benefitted The Haven, a local no-kill shelter that does a terrific job of finding homes for furry friends.

There was even canine royalty!

And the Mad Veterinarian!


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