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Mobile’s Mardi Gras

February 15, 2021
(Photos and memories from Sunday February 10, 2013)

I’m in Mobile, Alabama and Mardi Gras is going on all around me.

Mardi Gras parades on Dauphine Street. Mobile, Alabama

Dauphine Street is Mobile’s Bourbon Street, lined with bars and second story patios for looking down on the party below.  It’s still morning but the street is busy with drinkers. Rain is expected today; sorry for the gray-sky photos but it couldn’t be helped.

Mobile Mardi Gras 2013. The lady in the foreground must be sour-faced about the rainy weather. What else?

Technically speaking, it’s not Mardi Gras but Joe Cain Day in Mobile. The Sunday before Ash Wednesday is reserved for Mr. Cain’s memory – a man who basically started the Mardi Gras tradition in this town many decades ago.  The holiday has come to mean parades and family entertainment.

Dauphine Street with the Mobile skyline in the backdrop. Waiting for the Joe Cain Day parade to start.

The highlight of these parades is the opening float, reserved for the Merry Widows of Joe Cain.  These ladies, dressed all in black and wearing veils to keep their identities secret, wail for the memory of poor long-gone Joe Cain and compensate by throwing the crowds strings of black beads, the most coveted throw in Mobile’s Mardi Gras.  I caught a few strands of the blacks, but I also caught a few smacks on the head with throws I didn’t see coming.  Some of these were small Moon Pies, a favorite throw here in Mobile.

I also got a Merry Widow’s drinking cup:

Drink to poor Joe Cain’s memory!
Brought to you by the (not so sweet) Merry Widows of Joe Cain!

Afterwards, I’m at a bar called T.P. Crockmiers, on a barstool, bloody mary in front of me, eggs benedict ordered with a complementary glass of champagne expected to follow.  I trying to work off a headache caused by too many Moon Pies aimed at my head. My drink came in a plastic cup (suitable for take-out), adorned with lime and lemon slices, a celery top, and two pickled okra skewered by a toothpick.  One is always well taken care of in the South.

For those who prefer quiet museums to raucous parades, Mobile has just the place for you.

The Carnival Museum. Mobile, Alabama

Mobile was founded in 1702 and was designated capital of French “Louisiane” in 1711 by Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville. So Mobile does have a French heritage that goes with its Mardi Gras celebrations. Le Sieur de Bienville has a memorial in Bienville Square in the center of town.

Commemoration of Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville. Mobile, Alabama
Central fountain in Bienville Square. Mobile, Alabama

The Spanish controlled Mobile after the French. They’re remembered in Spanish Plaza, a few blocks from Bienville Square. These beautful porcelain park benches must have been gifts from the Spanish cities named on the benches.

From the town of Marbella, Spain, to Mobile, Alabama
From Madrid, Spain to Mobile, Alabama
From Barcelona, Spain to Mobile, Alabama
Statue of Hernando de Soto in Spanish Plaza. Mobile, Alabama

With both French and Spanish heritage, Catholicism is well-represented in Mobile.

Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Mobile, Alabama

There are two twin skyscrapers in Mobile and both are hotels, at least partially.  Nevertheless, this is a growing city, the kind of place businesses are looking to build in. The twin buildings are the RSA Tower and the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza (according to Google Maps). They are here:

Mobile’s twin skyscrapers

The late, great Hank Aaron was one of Mobile’s favorite sons. Hammerin’ Hank has a baseball park named for him in Mobile, called Hank Aaron Stadium. He is also remembered downtown with the Hank Aaron Loop.

Hank Aaron Loop. Downtown Mobile, Alabama

The city is situated on Mobile Bay, an important estuary of the Gulf of Mexico, so Mobile has always had a military presence — especially a naval one.

Battleship docked in Mobile Bay at Mobile, Alabama
Navy ships docked in Mobile Bay

The Mobile County Courthouse is a new and modern 7-story glass structure.  Their website expresses extreme pride for the building, saying how its open atrium draws people in instead of intimidating them the way traditional structures might. I don’t like that attitude so much; I appreciate a little grandeur in courthouses.

Mobile County Courthouse. Mobile, Alabama

I’ll leave you with a photo of the clean up after Mardi Gras. Who knows, perhaps they are still cleaning up today?

Mardi Gras clean-up. Mobile, Alabama

All photos taken by the author.

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

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