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Mardi Gras in Mobile


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Alabama: Mardi Gras in Mobile

Thursday, February 5, 2004 Posted: 11:31 AM EST (1631 GMT)

MOBILE, Alabama (AP) -- From decorated trees and outrageous costumes to colorful parades and quaint traditions, it's Mardi Gras time on the Gulf Coast. And while New Orleans' celebration may be better known, Mobile's claims to be older -- as well as more family-oriented.

Historians say the carnival was born in Mobile among French colonists in the 1700s, but it didn't really catch on until 1830, when a group of rowdies hit the streets with cowbells and rakes taken from a hardware store. They called themselves the Cowbellion de Rakin Society.

Today celebrations are held all along the Gulf Coast, from Texas to at least Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and small towns in between.

While Mobile has struggled lately with job layoffs, soldiers leaving for Iraq and related economic problems, the gloom has subsided a little for carnival in the port city, where about 30 different Mardi Gras organizations form the nucleus of the celebration.

"People are not spending like last year. Too many people are unemployed," said Carol Henson at Accent Annex, a Mardi Gras supplier. But she still has buyers for dancing jester dolls, crazy hats, designer beads, wreaths for doors and colorful sequined vests.

"Lots of people are decorating their homes with Mardi Gras trees," she added. A typical tree is decorated with strings of beads and carnival masks.

Poor economy or not, the season of frivolity and late-night cavorting in this 300-year-old port city is expected to fill the city's 5,700 hotel and motel rooms, particularly downtown where the major parades roll.

Police Capt. Joe Kennedy said about 833,479 people attended last year's two weeks of Mardi Gras parades. He expects a similar turnout this year.

And in response to past complaints about alcohol at the parades, an alcohol-free zone will be designated this year by roping off a block or more along the parade route, according to Mobile Public Safety Director Dick Cashdollar.

Mardi Gras falls on February 24, but the first parades rolled January 24 on Dauphin Island. The pace picks up February 6 in Mobile, when the first of the city's 33 parades is held.

For those raised in Alabama's 300-year-old port city, riding a Mardi Gras float is a dream come true and for many a family tradition, says 26-year-old Tim Anderson, loading a shopping cart with beads he will throw to paradegoers during his first float ride.

Float-riders traditionally throw Moon Pies, stuffed animals and trinkets at the crowds -- giant plastic pacifiers, oversized sunglasses, and bags of colorful beads, beads, and more beads.

King Cake is another carnival tradition. Inside the cake is a small toy doll and the person who gets that slice has to buy the next cake.

There are kings and queens of carnival courts -- and even some self-described royalty in the raucous Joe Cain parade.

Jenny Carden said she and her husband, Brad, will ride as the king and queen of the Tillman's Tricksters, a suburban carnival krewe with some 50 members.

"We're going to be riding in a carriage pulled by a Belgian horse named Moses," she said.

Stephen V. Toomey, a Mardi Gras store owner, said carnival arrives early this year and even earlier next year, February 8, giving little time to rest after Christmas.

"We're blessed because Mardi Gras is a priority for folks. The show must go on," Toomey said. "People find ways to make it happen."



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I can remember going to many a Mardi Gras parade in Mobile as a kid...I would take a big plastic bag and get enough candy/Moon Pies to last 2-3 weeks. I also remember almost getting stepped on by a member of the Vigor High band once...I ran out into the street to get something (probably a Moon Pie, knowing me) and didn't even bother to look and see if anyone was coming. Fortunately, I was quick enough to get back to the sidewalk before anything bad happened.

The weirdest thing I ever remember getting from a float were little sampler size boxes of Crispix cereal (this was when I was about 22)...I think I caught it, saw what it was and tried to throw it back.

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Mardi Gras? Mobile?

Have to come to New Orleans....just cant compare

Well said.........Words cant even begin to describe "The Big Easy" for Mardi Gras...

Mobile vs. NO........ABSOLUTELY NO COMPARISION.........

:beer2: ..... :drink1: ..... :cheers:

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If any of you guys are going to be in Metairie this weekend, I'm riding in the Krewe of Centurions on Sunday. Float 15, canal side, on top. Over half of the guys I ride with are Auburn Alums, so give a War Eagle, and we'll throw you something...

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If any of you guys are going to be in Metairie this weekend, I'm riding in the Krewe of Centurions on Sunday.  Float 15, canal side, on top.  Over half of the guys I ride with are Auburn Alums, so give a War Eagle, and we'll throw you something...

Son of a gun...have been to that parade before. Cant make it down to New Orleans until the Friday before because my teacher f=ed up by schedule a test that Friday....but I will be in Bacchus....watch out for me..last float...neutral ground....

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Living in St Louis, I can usually only make it for one weekend, and since my dad and I have been riding in that parade ever since I finished college, this is the weekend. Sorry I'll miss you in your parade...

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