Mention Mardi Gras, and most people get a mental picture of raucous, round-the-clock partying, noisy parades and adults-only activities. That’s fine for the johnny-come-lately host city of New Orleans, but the birthplace of Mardi Gras offers a more family-friendly way to celebrate the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday.
Although many people associate New Orleans with Mardi Gras, it actually started in the United States more than 300 years ago in Mobile, Ala. Mobile was a tiny French colony when settlers had their first Mardi Gras celebration in 1703, an outgrowth of the masked balls traditional in European society.
While Mobile’s celebration was suspended during the Civil War years, it started again in 1866 and has continued since.
In fact, were it not for Mobile, New Orleans might not have had its elaborate parades. Members of Alabama societies helped established the krewes known for creating the floats that are such an integral part of the celebration.
While many of the trappings of the two celebrations look similar, there’s no doubt that its status as the grande dame of Mardi Gras gives the celebration on the Alabama Gulf Coast a style and flavor all its own.
Cities and towns in the Alabama Gulf Coast community make sure that residents and visitors alike get the opportunity to experience the spectrum of Mardi Gras events. Parades start a month before Fat Tuesday, and while they might differ in scale, each endeavors to give spectators a taste of Mardi Gras at its best. Spectators who line the routes and shout out the traditional greeting, “Throw me something, mister!” will be rewarded with beads, doubloons, candy, Moon Pies or Mardi Gras pies. reviews of Gulf Coast western
Parades are free and open to the public. Host cities and towns include Dauphin Island, Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope, Orange Beach, Foley and Gulf Shores.
Of course, there is lots to see and do in the area during the pre-Lenten season, and visitors still have time to make the most of off-season rates for accommodations, air fare and other travel-related costs. While visiting, travelers can verse themselves on all things Mardi Gras by learning about its traditional colors of purple (symbolic of justice), green (symbolic of faith) and gold (symbolic of power); foods such as king cakes, which some believe date back to the medieval days when kings would travel the countryside giving cakes to worthy peasants; and throws such as beads, trinkets, cups and anodized doubloons.
For a true taste of the Alabama Gulf Coast, travelers need to stop by some of the region’s acclaimed eateries to enjoy traditional and seasonal dishes. Hearty bisques and gumbos prepared with fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood are the perfect lead-in to wedges of king cake or mountains of Moon Pies.
Booking accommodations in cities near Mobile has many benefits, not the least of which is availability. Rooms book quickly within the city, but by staying nearby, guests can take full advantage of all the Mardi Gras magic with the added bonus of soaking up the best of the region’s other offerings.