Did you know that Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, Alabama? Most folks think its home is in New Orleans, but they’d be wrong! It is the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the United States, started by Frenchman Nicholas Langlois in 1703 when Mobile was the capital of Louisiana. This was fifteen years before New Orleans was founded, although today their celebrations are much more widely known.
What is Mardi Gras?
The festival began as a French Catholic tradition. Mardi Gras in Mobile has now evolved into a mainstream, multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures in Mobile. School holidays usually occur on the final Monday and Tuesday (some include Wednesday) of the multi-week celebration, regardless of religious affiliation. If you have relatives in Mobile or Baldwin counties, they’ve probably bragged to you before about being out of school for the fun!
Take the Family to Mardi Gras!
Our family began attending the Baldwin County festivities when my husband and I were newly married. When the kids came along, it was a no brainer to add them to the fun! Mardi Gras may conjure up some negative ideas, but trust me when I say the Mobile Bay area parades are family friendly. Curious about what to expect? I’ve got a few simple tips for making your trip fun and easy!
Tips for Celebrating Mardi Gras
Bring a Bag, Box, Bin, or something similar to catch your throws! What’s a “throw?” Throws are gifts thrown from the parade floats. They can be anything from plastic bead necklaces to moon pies to huge plush animals! One of my girls’ favorite “catches” was from a parade we attended last year. My husband had a friend in the parade, and when he saw us around the corner, he threw my girls a GIANT plush dog! It made their night. We definitely needed our bags to haul our prizes away last year!
Arrive to the parade early. Does the parade begin at 6:00 p.m.? You may want to get there at 5:00 p.m.. Not only because parking will be a bear, but because you’ll want to score the best seat on the parade route. We’ve found that corners are a great place to be. Occasionally, the parades slow or stop when they come to a corner, and float attendants keep throwing their throws! Extra prizes make kids extra happy!
Dress for the weather. Our first year attending Mardi Gras, we almost froze our toes off. We dressed warmly, but standing out in the elements for almost two hours was still rough. It seems that every other year is mild or freezing, so make sure to check the weather before you go.
Choose parade dates wisely. Ask a friend or family member which parades are geared toward families. Research online to see what others have said. The Mobile Mask is a trusted source for the most up-to-date information on parade routes and times, and it also gives history and facts about Mardi Gras in Mobile in addition to the schedule. My biggest tip is to have a plan and not just “fly by the seat of your pants”. You’ll be disappointed if your family drives all the way down south and misses something due to poor planning.
Mardi Gras for the Family
Mardi Gras does not have to be a wild free for all. There are events and occasions where it is appropriate to bring your family. You just need to know where to look! Have you taken you family to Mardi Gras before? Share your best tips with us if you have!