They take Mardi Gras seriously in Mobile, so much so in fact, they claim to have invented it. While New Orleans may be the most famous Mardi Gras, the people of Mobile have as much or more pride in theirs. The first Mardi Gras was held in 1703 in Mobile, local historians say. It faded after some years, but was revived by Joe Cain after the Civil War. To combat the post war misery he led a parade down the streets of Mobile and the Mardi Gras was reborn.
Mardi Gras begins two and a half weeks before Fat Tuesday. There are parades each day, some days have more than one even, and there is constant celebraiton. There are elaborate floats, masked mystical societies, marching bands an they all go through downtown throwing moon pies, beads and trinkets to the crowd. Over the two week period two million people are estimated to attend each year. There is also a special day to honor Joe Cain. In addition to parades there are also a series of balls, or dances, held during the two weeks of festivities. Many of these are costume balls, or at least many people wear masks.
Mardi Gras may fall anywhere between February 9 and March 7, and it depends on when Easter is. It is a huge party with many traditions, loaded with music and fun. Mobile in particular tries to keep its Mardi Gras more family friendly. The people enjoy the rivalry with New Orleans, which also claims to have started the festival. But it is true that the Mystic Societies, upon which Mardi Gras rests, were started in Mobile in the mid 1800s.