AllyBama's WunderBlog

Mardi Gras - Mobile!

By: AllyBama, 4:03 AM GMT on January 14, 2007






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Mardi Gras
History of Mardi Gras
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. The Cowbellion de Rakin society took loudly to the streets in 1830 armed with rakes, hoes and cowbells plundered from a hardware store, and no doubt later kept the feast with whatever food and drink they had. Although they marched on New Year's Eve and not Fat Tuesday, they were a true antecedent of Mardi Gras in Mobile and the first mystic societies, which were later formed in the 1830s. Later, in 1857, the Mobile members of the Cowbellian de Rakin Society traveled to New Orleans and assisted with the formation of the Mystic Krewe of Comus, to this day New Orleans' most prestigious Mardi Gras society. From these early roots grew the wonderful Mardi Gras celebrations found today in the Port City.

The stress of the Civil War brought an end to the annual festivities in Mobile. After the war and under Union occupation, the city was disillusioned and discouraged. On the afternoon of Fat Tuesday in 1866, Joseph Stillwell Cain set out to raise the spirits of Mobile. He donned Chickasaw Indian regalia, called himself "Chief Slacabormorinico," climbed aboard a decorated coal wagon pulled by a mule and held a one-float parade through the streets of Mobile. Mardi Gras with all its frivolity was reborn!

Cain founded many of the mystic societies and built a tradition of Mardi Gras parades, which continues today. In fact, he is remembered each year on Joe Cain Day, which is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Known as "the people's day," Mardi Gras revelers decorate anything they can push, pull, or drag for the Joe Cain Procession and parade, which is as much fun to watch as it is to ride. Cain himself participated in each year's festivity until he died at age 72.


Most people associate Mardi Gras in the US with the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. It is true that New Orleans hosts the largest and most popular Mardi Gras, but they were not the first to celebrate the Carnival season. That honor goes to their smaller neighbor to the east: Mobile, Alabama. Mobile hosted its first Mardi Gras celebration in 1703, long before New Orleans. And Mardi Gras is still celebrated in this quiet southern town every year. While New Orleans has the reputation for the largest and wildest Mardi Gras, Mobile prides itself on having a "family friendly" Mardi Gras celebration. Welcome to Mobile, Alabama, the birthplace of Mardi Gras!


Most people associate Mardi Gras in the US with the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. It is true that New Orleans hosts the largest and most popular Mardi Gras, but they were not the first to celebrate the Carnival season. That honor goes to their smaller neighbor to the east: Mobile, Alabama. Mobile hosted its first Mardi Gras celebration in 1703, long before New Orleans. And Mardi Gras is still celebrated in this quiet southern town every year. While New Orleans has the reputation for the largest and wildest Mardi Gras, Mobile prides itself on having a "family friendly" Mardi Gras celebration. Welcome to Mobile, Alabama, the birthplace of Mardi Gras!


Candy, beads, doubloons, moonpies! Oh my!
History of Doubloons (Mardi Gras Coins)
This is a brief yet interesting article about the origin of one of the most prized Mardi Gras throws, the doubloon (coin). There is some mention of various Mobile krewes and when they first adopted the practice of throwing doubloons.
Black Roses
Black roses are another Mardi Gras throw that is unique to the city of Mobile. They are handed out by Joe Cain's Merry Widows when they make their annual pilgramage every Joe Cain Day to "mourn" at Old Joe's grave in Mobile's historic Church Street Cemetery.
Moonpie!em>
Did you know that throwing Moonpies during Mardi Gras is a tradition unique to Mobile?
The Moonpie is one of the most coveted items that you might catch at a Mardi Gras parade in Mobile. People in the crowd chant for them "moonpie! moonpie! moonpie!" or "Hey, mister, throw me a moonpie!". It is a true southern delicacy.





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