Mobile knows it can't compete with the New Orleans Mardi Gras, but if you're looking for something a bit less crazy and where the celebration began, Mobile is the place. 1703 was the 1st time Mardi Gras was celebrated in the US and the oldest "mystic" societies are still here. 2 weeks before Fat Tuesday, there are balls, parades and lots of other parties...the celebration doesn't die down until Ash Wednesday.
YUM! I don't need to say much about this because if you like tomatoes and haven't tried these, you have to. If you have, you know what I'm talking about. There is just something about them. And Mobilians have perfected the recipe. One great place to get them is Butch Cassidy's cafe on Forida and Old Shell.
In Mobile, it's perfectly acceptable and even preferable to buy some foods off the back of someone's pickup truck. Crawfish is a big one and boiled peanuts. I stick with the fruits and things that can't go bad immediately. Boiled peanuts are something I will never enjoy. Personally, I think peanuts are best when roasted...to me, boiled peanuts taste like the styrofoam packing peanuts you might put into a box to keep an item from breaking. Just a little more slimy. My family enjoys them, though--and whenever they were down in Mobile or I was coming home, they were requested. If you want to try them yourself, look for someone's truck parked along the street or if for some reason they aren't out, you can go for the less desirable option: a convenience store or gas station.
I remember the 1st time I saw people buying these things from someone's personal vehicle. When they told me they wanted to stop and get some boiled peanuts on the way home, I didn't think it was going to be from a flatbed. I was so confused when we stopped and I saw them exchanging money...I thought I was unknowingly part of a drug deal. She came back with a paper bag and opened it up, offered me some, and I hesitantly peered into the bag which seemed VERY heavy for a roadside drug pick up and there were things that appeared to look like blanched peanuts. Ugh.
The Civil War crushed Mardi Gras for much of the south. Joseph Stillwell Cain is generally credited with reviving Mardi Gras in the Mobile area. In 1866, on Fat Tuesday, Cain and six of his friends went out to do their best to better the morale of the citizens of defeated Mobile. The city and people of Mobile were demoralized and under the thumb of Union soldiers. A "mental war" was still being waged against the southern residents of the city. Naming themselves the "Tea Drinkers" (they drank much stronger stuff than tea), Joe Cain and his friends went out on a mule pulled wagon. Cain went out dressed as a Chickasaw Indian chief, which was actually a sly way of insulting Union soldiers. Any outright verbal slight would have been considered treason. But Cain dressing as a Chickasaw Indian was a way of reminding the Union soldiers that the Chickasaw had never surrendered during the Civil War.
Cain founded the Order of the Myths which organizes the final parade in Mobile in present day.
Joe Cain Day is celebrated on the Sunday before Mardi Gras.
Future Dates are Feb. 5th, 2008; Feb. 24th, 2009. These dates are the LAST day of Mardi Gras celebrations, which would be Fat Tuesday.
Mobile Mardi Gras is the ORIGINAL one and is still done traditionally. Mobile was founded in 1702; New Orleans in 1718. I am from the Miss. Gulf Coast and have family in New Orleans French Quarter as well so I know Mardi Gras. Mobile's is the BEST due to tradition, safety, but also there are very large crowds. Mobilians throw MoonPies, a cookie/marshmallow type treat, Ramen noodles, you name it.
My suggestion is to come in the previous weekend ( the dates Feb. 2nd, Sunday the 3rd (which is Joe Cain Day-the People's Parade)). Make reservations for a downtown hotel up to a year in advance. You are competing with locals for rooms.
If you don't get in a downtown hotel, don't worry. Drive down and park close to Broad Street in the Oakleigh Garden DIstrict (just South of Government Street). Have a drink at Callaghan's Irish Pub in the Oakleigh area (corner of Marine/ Charleston) and get a hamburger.
If the parade is at 6:30 pm, leave by 6:55 pm.
Then walk one block to Broad and take left. Stand at either Govt./Broad at the Big white church (2 blocks north) or stand at end of Church/Broad (one block north) This is where many Oakleigh Garden District residents stand. It's safe, I promise! It may be a little urban for you but it is safe.
Or cross the barricade where you see a Police Officer, usually where Canal turns north onto Broad. We like to cross and just get more room over on the other side. If you walk a little way, you can hit the parade twice! I think at Washington Street.
Or you can drive I-10 to Water Street exit, head North. This is the street that runs along the waterfront (which ironically you can't see!). There is a median and yes, you can park here. Parking is anything goes as long as you are NOT on a parade route. The only bad thing is you must get there earlier. For instance, 6:30 pm parade- get there by 6:00 pm.
It may not be the same in comparison to New Orleans Mardi Gras (some people might consider that a good thing), but Mobile does have it's own celebration. A lot more mild and less wild, it is still Mardi Gras. You should still be ready to catch beads and moon pies.
The parades begin in late January and end in early February and hold the same schedule as other Mardi Gras festivals. I
You will see sign posts down certain roads within the city area which states the Azalea Trail. This is a 27-mile trail which exhibits the region's beautiful flowers. The trail dates back to the 1930s and is divided into two regions, one downtown and one residential. The time for planning your trip is around February-March. The downtown trail begins at Fort Conde for about twelve miles. The West Mobile trail begins at Spring Hill Avenue and I-65 for about fifteen miles.
January/February (2 weeks) - Mardi Gras in Mobile dates back to 1703 which is before New Orleans in 1837. There are dozens fo colourful Mardi Gras floats that parade through downtown during the weeks prior to Mardi Gras Day.
The recipent of mine WWII Battle Stars, the Battleship USS ALABAMA and her crew of 2,500 saw action in the Atlantic for a year before joining the Pacific Fleet in mid-1943. There she fought at such key locations as Leyte, the Gilbert Islands and
Okinawa .After the signing of the war-ending surrender
documents in September 1945, USS ALABAMA, or the
'Mighty A', as she was known, led the American Fleet into Tokyo Bay.
There is so much to see at Battleship Park.