MO-BEEL and Mardi Gras

Just so you know, there is a correct way to pronounce the name of this city, and the locals take it very seriously. We’ve been practicing it for like 4 days: MO-BEEL (with the accent on the second syllable).

You should also know that much to the chagrin of New Orleanians, this is where the celebration of Mardi Gras as we know it in the New World first appeared. The French declared Mobile as the capital of the French colony of Louisiana in 1702, and by 1703 masked balls began to appear.

But it wasn’t until New Years Eve 1830 when a drunk dude named Michael Kraft raided a hardware store in Mobile with his friends and paraded down the streets of Mobile banging a cowbell. Over the next several years, they  formed the first mystic society (or Krewe) called the Cowbellion de Rakin society, and eventually switched their parade-times-fun to Fat Tuesday. And thus, Mardi Gras as we know it today was born.

Mardi Gras has been celebrated here in Mobile every year except during the two World Wars, and was shut down completely during the Civil War. But in 1868, a local hero named Joseph Cain defied the rules of “no public gatherings” set forth by the occupying Union forces, and revived the parades of Mardi Gras, which have been happening ever since.

We were here before most of the Mardi Gras festivities began, but had the pleasure of attending a “people’s parade” (no Krewes, only ordinary citizens) on Dauphin (pronounced DAH-FIN)  Island, just outside of Mobile.

As we head to New Orleans on Tuesday, stay tuned for how Mardi Gras first appeared there, one of our most beloved cities.

Mardi Gras figures appear all over the city.
Ted–The King of Mardi Gras!
Here we are with our new bestie Tootie. She helped us to get the best beads and other throws at the parade on Dauphin Island.
Ted caught and ate his first Moon Pie–these are very popular and delicious throws up here.
I was honored to be given this throw, my first of the Carnival season, by a member of the Wild Mauvilians–the Krewe associated with the legend and hero Joe Cain. I might not take it off until after Mardi Gras.
PREVIEW: Here is where I shopped for our Mardi Gras decorations for our place in New Orleans. Stay tuned.

Author: Matt Casper

Writer, Traveler, Human.

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