Mention Mardi Gras and images of drunken wildness in New Orlean’s French Quarter most likely spring to mind. But did you know that Mardi Gras actually started in Mobile, Alabama over 300 years ago? Did you also know that Mobile is “America’s Family Mardi Gras” and is appropriate for all ages? If you’re looking to have a fun time out of harm’s way, Mobile has one of the safest Mardi Gras celebrations in the world.
When is Mardi Gras? The exact dates of Mardi Gras vary each year, but it can always be determined by calculating backwards from the date on which Easter falls. Mardi Gras Day, or “Fat Tuesday” is always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which begins the 40-day Lenten season. This year Mardi Gras is February 16, 2010.
Mardi Gras Frivolity. Although it’s family-friendly, Mobile’s Mardi Gras is not just for the kids. The frivolity and excitement of a Mardi Gras parade or party has a way of turning staid adults into giddy revelers, even if you choose not to glam up in sequins, masks, or a funny costume to participate. Mardi Gras lasts for weeks, during which time the streets of Mobile and surrounding suburbs come alive. Frequent parades are the highlight (lighted parades at night are really spectacular). The Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Mardi Gras is the real party, with two or three parades held each day. Brilliant-colored floats motor slowly down the streets, allowing time for costumed riders to toss “throws” to the enthusiastic crowds. Favored “throws” are beaded necklaces in the traditional colors of green, gold, and purple, moon pies, candy, plastic cups, moon pies, stuffed animals, wooden coins, and more moon pies! The best way to get the most throws is to get yourself noticed—wave your hands in the air, jump up and down, yell, and catch the eye of a thrower on the float. Get to the parade route early to stake your spot on the sidewalk or roadside, and bring a bag to haul home your loot. You’ll be leaving with literally pounds of beads and other souvenirs.
Check back next week to learn the history of Mardi Gras.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com