american roads writers, contributors, photographersarchives of American Roadssubscribe to American Roadsbooks by Kathleen Wallscontact american roadsbecome a sponsor or advertise

 

Mobile’s G-Rated Mardi Gras
and Other Dixie Delights

Article and Photos by Eleanor Hendricks McDaniel

 

Mobile_MG_Museum.jpg (421917 bytes)

Cosutmes of King and Queen at Mobile Carnival Museum

A band struts by, horns blaring, drums thumping. A papier-m�ch� float, representing a medieval castle and festooned with sparkling decorations, approaches. The riding masked revelers cast gifts to the throngs below. The crowd goes wild. “Throw me something, mister!” they shout. I grab a moon pie. Others catch beads, candy, stuffed animals and more. Soon the somber season of Lent will be here. But right now, laissez les bon temps rouler! (French for “Let the good times roll!”) 

Ah, yes… Mardi Gras in New Orleans. No! It’s Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, the birthplace of the famous celebration. The festival harkens back to the city’s French heritage when in 1703 the first mystic society was formed. Now, for three weeks before Ash Wednesday, 31 organizations parade day and night through the streets of downtown Mobile. Without the raunchiness that depicts New Orleans’ festivities, families feel comfortable in Mobile with its wholesome atmosphere. No nakedness or alcohol is allowed, and police patrol every street corner. Children are even included in the activities. For instance, in the private ball that follows each society’s parade, children often appear in the court of its king and queen. 

Mobile_MG_Museum2.jpg (296843 bytes)

Mobile Carnival Museum

I learned everything I needed to know about Mobile’s Mardi Gras at the Mobile Carnival Museum. It highlights the history and culture of the event through multiple displays, videos and fabulous costume exhibits of past galas, including an interactive children’s gallery. Many items, such as crowns, gowns and 80-foot trains, rival the grandeur of 18th century France. You may tour the building on your own or request a docent to guide you. 

Of course, I expected to find the beauty, charm and history of the old South in Alabama’s oldest city. The architecture, customs and cuisine reflect its multi-cultural heritage. The French, Spanish, English, Native Americans and Africans have all taken a turn stirring Mobile’s melting pot. Don’t miss visiting the Museum of Mobile which sheds light on the city’s past with interesting and informative permanent displays. It also presents fun temporary exhibits, like the current show, Up, Up & Away -- The Evolution of the Comic Book Hero that runs until March 3, 2013. 

No location typifies the beauty and gracious living of old Mobile like the preeminent Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Almost 65 acres of cultivated gardens are open to the public year-round. After I toured the Rose Garden, the Asian-American Garden and other specified gardens, I visited the elegant home of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath, who rose from humble beginnings. He started bottling Coca-Cola for Mobile and delivering it on foot – the rest is history. A guide takes you through the residence that’s filled with original furnishings, all the while regaling you with antidotes about the Bellingraths. 

Battle House.jpg (229649 bytes)

Battle House Lobby

To get a personal feel for old Mobile, stay at the historic Battle House. Since 1852, it was the place Mobilers went to see and to be seen. After being closed for 33 years, the property reopened in 2007 with a  major renovation which has wed 19th-century opulence with 21st-century convenience. You’ll be blown away when you enter the lobby that explodes into a space of 5,600 feet, illuminated from above by a huge stained glass dome. Luxuriously appointed guestrooms and suites, bars and restaurants, (including Mobile’s only Four Diamond restaurant, The Trellis Room,) the exquisite Battle House Spa, a fitness center and access to two courses on the renowned Robert Trent Jones golf trail make this grand hotel the place to stay in Mobile.  

And Mobile is the place to see and be seen as you roll with the good times.

For more info: www.mobilecarnivalmusuem.com

 




Get paid for your opinion.

 Version 2 of 120 x 240 pixels

Earn rewards for your online activity

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC