Friday, February 17, 2012

Mardi Gras Time!

By: Casey Crow
It's Mardi Gras in Mobile! Yeah, New Orleans throws a big ta-do, but since we Alabamians like to say Mobile had the first Mardi Gras, I'll be talking about how we do it up down here. Purple, gold and green everyone, even on my own front door. Parades with masked revelers throwing moonpies, beads, and huge stuffed animals. Balls with ladies in beautiful long dresses and guys in tails wearing so many beads they look like Mr. T. On Fat Tuesday, the Knights of Revelry ladies wear spring suits and fancy hats like you see at the Kentucky Derby. Most have on tennis shoes with those designer suits. Half the children running around wear French hand-sewn dresses and john-johns. The other half are raggamuffins with Walmart sacks filled with throws. The most serious parade goers have folding chairs, ice chests, and giant umbrellas they flip upside down. That's makes the aim easier for a drunk dude on a float to ring. Folks even have those trash picker upper things to pull beads from the branches of the crape mertles and enormous live oaks lining the streets. Campers fill the grassy area by the civic center.
I've been in the parades and watched them. Been sprayed with mace when some doofus near me got into a fight with his buddy. Once, when I was fifteen and riding in the Floral parade, this super cute guy ran up to my float and gave ME a rose. That's my favorite Mardi Gras memory.
So that's the first-hand account. Now here's the official explanation:
Mardi Gras is celebrated in Mobile, New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities.
This festive event was started in Mobile and according to some accounts, dates
back to 1703. The celebration was originally called Boef Gras (Fat Beef).
The well-known Mardi Gras in Mobile was begun by Michael Krafft. On New
Years's Eve, 1830, Krafft and his friends were reluctant to end a dinner party
at the customary time. They raided a nearby hardware store, took up rakes, hoes
and cowbells and proceeded to wake the town. They soon formed the Cowbellion de
Rakin Society, the first of Mobile's many modern mystic organizations. The
Cowbellions presented their first parade, complete with floats and theme, in
The Civil War brought revelry in Mobile to an abrupt halt. Joseph Stillwell
Cain, on Fat Tuesday of 1866, donned full Chickasaw Indian regalia, dubbed
himself Chief Slacabamorinico. Cain and six friends set out to raise the morale
of citizens in the defeated city. Dubbing themselves the "Tea Drinkers", and
fired up by drink much stronger than tea, they took to the streets in a
decorated coal wagon pulled by a mule. Cain was a founder in the Order of Myths,
the organization which today holds the final Carnival Season parade Mardi Gras
night. He also helped organize many more parading societies. Cain's role in
reviving Mardi Gras is observed each year on the Sunday before Mardi Gras Day,
"Joe Cain Day." On "Joe Cain Day" thousands of Mobilians in costume and on
individually designed floats parade through the streets of downtown Mobile.

The date of Mardi Gras is determined by the date of Easter. Mardi Gras Day,
or "Fat Tuesday," is the Tuesday before the Ash Wednesday which begins the 40
days Lenten season. Nighttime parades and other public festivities begin about
10 days before Mardi Gras Day. Carnival Season balls, receptions and other
private functions begin in the fall and continue through Mardi Gras Day.


Wynter Daniels said...

Sounds like fun! I had no idea this extended beyond New Orleans. Have a great time!

Jax Cassidy said...

Love Mardi Gras! I used to go in my college years but I would love to to back to New Orleans to see how much it's changed. Hope you'll be partying happily! :)

Naima Simone said...

I've never been to a Mardis Gras! I've always wanted to go to one though. I remember when I worked at a bank operations center, the Mobile branch closed on Mardis Gras, and we would get so jealous! I bet it's so festive and fun! Though I haven't been to Mardi Gras I have tasted King Cake before...YUUUMMM!!!

Dalton Diaz said...

I had no idea it extended beyond New Orleans, either. I'm trying to think of something that fun that we do here in New, hey, we can buy booze on Sundays now. Yeah, we're rockin'!

Michelle Polaris said...

My goal is to get down to Mardi Gras. I've never been. Now I know I don't have to have such a limited target for my destination. Yay!

Casey Crow said...

Hey, Ladies! Sorry I'm just know getting on here, but after a work-my-a@#-off weekend to finish edits on DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE, I gotta say I'm ready to head out to the parades today. Yep, it's FAT TUESDAY - the biggest day for celebration, then tommorrow the street sweepers will come through, the city will take down the street barricades, and the only remains will be the strangler beads left in trees that were too high for folks to reach. They'll stay there till hurricane season (he he).

Naima - King Cake is basically a cinnamon roll with vanilla icing and purple, green & yellow cystal sprinkle things. Sometimes they have cream cheese or fruit flavored filling. I admit, it's not my favorite, probably because I've need been the one to get the peice with the little plastic naked baby that's supposed to bring good luck.

Dalton - No fair. No selling of alcohol in the Bible Belt on Sunday. Believe it or not, my home county just went wet (were alchohol was allowed to be sold) only a few years ago. It was such a big deal - each city had to vote on it. It was weird seeing beer sold in Walmart for the first time. In my hometown, my daddy owns the liquor store. He's partners with the MAYOR! Gotta love small towns!

Callie Croix said...

I've been to New Orleans, but never at Mardii Gras, and I don't think I ever would since partying on that scale isn't something I want to see, lol. I love all the history behind the event though, and the specific flavor of it. The food, of course, but that goes without saying.

You'd be so proud of me, Casey--ever since I came back from my trip to MS, I've been brewing myself a big pitcher of sweet tea (slightly sweetened, so my pancreas doesn't short out on me). I really should have been born in the South :)