Mardi Gras celebrations officially kick off this year on January 17th with the first parade of the year being held in Dauphin Island. The Krewe de la Dauphine parade is only the start to what is a seemingly endless list of Mardi Gras parades and celebrations that will be leading up to the official big day of the event on February 17, 2015.
Although some people say New Orleans is home to Mardi Gras, history shows that it originated in Mobile, and that is just another reason as to why Mobile is such a unique and culturally rich city. The numerous celebrations range from high-class balls and elaborate parades taking place in and around Mobile, Alabama throughout January and February. According to legend, the celebrations began when a ship captain named Charles Kennerly tied cowbells to a rake and declared himself to be representative of the Cowbellion de Rakin Society. From that point forward, Kennerly’s “secret society” continued to exist for the sole purpose of partying and throwing parades. Since that time, more secret societies have formed and have taken place in Mardi Gras celebrations. Today, more than 33 groups have parades in celebration of Mardi Gras throughout the Mobile area.
With so many different parades taking place throughout Mobile, it is unlikely that you will have any trouble finding one that you can enjoy. If you hope to get some of the stuff that is tossed out during the parade, you need to come prepared. Since a handful of the stuff does not make it past the barricade, seasoned parade-goers bring small plastic rakes to grab the tossed items and pull them in. If you are tempted to jump over the barricade to get the stuff, you might want to rethink the plan: if you are caught jumping the barricade by local police, you may receive a $172 ticket. Another popular item to bring – plastic bags or totes – so you have more than just two hands to carry everything you catch.
While parades are easy to attend, participating in one of the many Mardi Gras balls taking place throughout the area might be more difficult. Although some societies sell tickets to their balls, most are only open to members and their guests. As such, you will need to receive an invitation if you hope to attend one of these special events. If you are lucky enough to receive one of these invitations, your invite is likely to specify “costume de rigueur.” For women, this means you must wear a floor-length dress. For men, it means you must wear black tails with a white pique shirt, which is a shirt with waffle-textured fabric. You must also wear a white pique tie with white cufflinks and studs. If you fail to dress appropriately, you are likely to be turned away at the door.
Aside from the Krewe de la Dauphine parade, which kicks off at 1:00 pm on January 17th, several parades will also take place in Mobile. The earliest of these will take place on January 30th at 6:30 pm. Since times and dates of parades are subject to change, it is a good idea to check the parade schedule available on the Mobile Mask, which serves as the official site for all Mobile-area Mardi Gras information. You can also find more information about parade routes, secret societies and area balls on the website.
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