Mobile, Alabama has been the destination for one of the South’s most popular holiday celebrations for over 300 years.
From King Cake and MoonPies to joining “The Big Parade”, there’s something for everyone during the Azalea City’s historic Mardi Gras celebration.
Cartledge Blackwell, curator of the Mobile Carnival Museum, spoke to Southern Living Magazine about Mardi Gras in Mobile.
“Carnival is our greatest living tradition,” Blackwell said. “Most Southern cities have three seasons: summer, hunting, and football. But in Mobile and New Orleans, we’ve got Carnival season. It’s on the calendar here from November to Ash Wednesday morning, but it never really stops.”
During the “Carnival season” Mobile welcomes approximately 1 million visitors and revelers.
A portion of Mardi Gras that consistently draws huge amounts of attention is “The Big Parade”, but more specifically it is the elaborate and detailed floats taking part in the event that steal the show.
Longtime Float designer, Mark Calametti, described his thought process when creating one of Mobile’s famous floats.
“It’s cool being a part of something that you grew up with and that has such a rich history. I don’t know how to describe it, but in the end, if you’re not there [in person], you’ve missed it,” Calametti told Southern Living. “The floats are gone—they get turned into something else, but that’s kind of the neat thing about it too. There’s some permanence in the impermanence.”
“The fact that they’re not treasured and saved but are just enjoyed in the moment is what makes it special.”
According to a study commissioned by the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mardi Gras has a $408 million annual economic impact on the city, and creates more than 12,800 jobs in both Mobile and Baldwin County during the Carnival season.
Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.