The Good Times Are Rolling Again

The Good Times Are Rolling Again

Mardi Gras is back, and the good times are rolling bigger and better than ever from Mobile to Huntsville and cities in between. To avoid pandemic gatherings, parades took a two-year hiatus that last year spawned alternatives like “Yardi Gras” festooned yards and front-porch floats in Mobile and other Alabama gulf coast towns. This year, with parades in full swing, the decorated lawns, porches, and vehicles continue as residents bring the carnival fun to streets off the parade route.  

Alabama revelers take Mardi Gras seriously. After all, the celebration that is synonymous with New Orleans was conceived in Mobile in 1703. Present-day Mobile was the first capital of French Louisiana and first enjoyed Mardi Gras with a feast and masks. New Orleans adopted the pre-Lenten festivities more than a decade later in 1718. Known as the “birthplace of Mardi Gras,” Mobile boasts more than 40 parades – most sponsored by decades-old private mystic societies.

Mardi Gras is a season spanning from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday and the local Mardi Gras organizations, known as krewes, began throwing beads on January 29 on Dauphin Island near Mobile. Approaching Fat Tuesday, which falls on March 1, parade-goers will clamor for beads, coins, and candy at scores of parades across the state. 

Mobile’s professionally-designed floats and large parades may be the hallmark of Mardi Gras but small communities across Alabama, like Wetumpka and Andalusia, also enjoy the beads, Moon Pies, and the visitors Mardi Gras brings to town. Andalusia hosted its inaugural Mardi Gras parade this year. 

Along with the traditional carnival season fun, special parades appeal to charitable giving. Fairhope’s annual Mystic Mutts of Revelry parade features costumed dogs and their people and benefits The Haven, a local animal shelter. The 4th annual Joy of Life/St. Jude Mardi Gras parade and ball raises money and awareness aimed at fighting childhood cancer through St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Beyond the fun and good works, Mardi Gras is big business – especially in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. A 2020 WalletHub study of Mardi Gras in the U.S. cited an economic impact of $408 million for the City of Mobile and links to 12,800 jobs in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Event space rentals, food vendors, caterers, bands, and formal wear retailers are among the many businesses that count on Mardi Gras season to contribute to their bottom line. 

Whether your Mardi Gras is about business, pleasure, charity or just the King Cake, the good times are rolling again in Alabama. Laissez les bon temps rouler!


Mardi Gras Fun Facts:

  • Mardi Gras’ official colors, purple, green and gold, were adopted in 1892 and have specific meanings:
    • Purple is for justice
    • Green denotes faith.
    • Gold represents power.
  • Mobile had more than 1 million Mardi Gras participants in 2019.
  • Tickets for Mobile’s Mardi Gras balls ranged from $75-$100 each.
  • Float riders in New Orleans spend an average of $500 on throws.
  • More than half a million King Cakes are sold in New Orleans during carnival season.
  • Mobile canceled Mardi Gras five years during World War I and World War II.
  • Float riders can be fined for removing their masks during a parade.
  • Crossing a barricade in Mobile can result in a $300 fine.
  • Boxes of Cracker Jacks preceded Moon Pies as parade throws in Mobile.