Although many people associate it just with New Orleans, there are Mardi Gras celebrations all over the world. What most people don’t know is that the U.S. celebration of Mardi Gras began in Mobile, Alabama. Tuesday, March 4, 2014 is Fat Tuesday the start of the Mardi Gras season.
According to the U.S. Library of Congress, the annual pre-Lent celebration, began in 1703 with food, wine and parties at 27 Mile Bluff in Mobile, Alabama. French settlers carried the tradition to Mobile, a.k.a the “Port City.” In 1830, a tipsy man named Michael Krafft started an impromptu parade with some ‘borrowed’ bells, rakes and hoes, and walked the streets.
His ‘parade’ was named the Cowbellion de Rakin Society, or the first Mystic Society parade. That same tradition was revived every year, with a hiatus during the civil war.
Mardi Gras migrated to New Orleans in 1856. Six businessman, three of whom were from Mobile, gathered in the French Quarter to organize a secret society inspired by the Cowbellion de Rakin Society. These six men created the first krewe, the Mistick Krewe of Comu and planned New Orleans’ first Mardi Gras parade.
After the war, around 1866, the celebration was reborn when Joseph Stillwell Cain and his men “borrowed” a wagon and other materials, added costumes and paraded down the streets of Mobile on Fat Tuesday. Cain wore the costume of undefeated Chickasaw Indian chief named Slacabamorinico. In 1867, the oldest continuous Mardi Gras parade society, the Order of Myths, was formed.