It’s been drilled into the heads of every native of Mobile, Ala: The Port City is the home of Mardi Gras.
Yet most people still think New Orleans is — even my homies in WHYY’s newsroom. They are an extremely talented bunch of award-winning journalists with all kinds of facts permeating their brains, except this one.
On my way out of Mobile following this year’s celebration, my brother asked if I was going to blog about Mardi Gras. Naw, figured I’d just give my colleagues purple, green and gold strings of beads I caught at the parades and let that be that.
But when everyone, to a person, thought the booty was from New Orleans, it was time to school the unsuspecting masses about the origin of Fat Tuesday in The U.S.
The oldest annual Mardi Gras celebration in the country started in Mobile in 1703. That’s more than 15 years before New Orleans was barely a twinkle in the eyes of French settlers along The Gulf Coast.
As the first capital of French Louisiana, immigrants brought their Catholic tradition of Mardi Gras to Mobile years before New Orleans got the party started.
Mobile Mardi Gras has evolved into various celebrations including the coronation of a king and queen, numerous balls, a multitude of colorful parades, private parties and smaller gatherings. The celebration stretches over 3 weeks.
An important difference between the two cities is Mobile has far fewer drunk people and a family-friendly atmosphere while debauchery is the norm around Bourbon Street.
Similiar to the feelings Philadelphians have about being in the shadow of New York City, folks from Mobile get their backs up over New Orleans’ reputation as “the” celebration to attend.
Take it from me, Mardi Gras is better in Mobile.