Mobile was the first city in the U.S. to celebrate Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday is the last day of the Carnival season. The day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Fat Tuesday is always a huge party in downtown Mobile, with 6 parades. The parades start at 10:30 and end with the last parade starting at 6:30. Fat Tuesday falls on March 8, 2011. The Comic Cowboys Parade is always a highlight of the Fat Tuesday parade. They skip the fancy floats. It’s not about the floats, it’s about the commentary. The Comic Cowboys poke fun at local and national personalities and events. The MAMGA parade rolls right after the Cowboys. MAMGA has the Mammoth Parade, and like it’s name says, it is huge. I believe it is the largest parade of the season. So with all of these parades how do you ensure a safe and fun Mardi Gras? Read on to find out.
Pick a spot early. People start arriving hours before the first parade rolls. If want a prime spot, leave early. Review the parade routes before you leave. Most routes start and end at the civic center. Most also go down Government Street to Broad. The center of activity is Bienville Square, 2 blocks from Government Street. Parades usually come by at some point. Check your routes, at least 2 parades will be on different routes. You will need to move to another location, temporarily, to catch those parades. Bring chairs, coolers, and appropriate clothing for the weather.
Stay together. If you are with children, stay close to them. There are thousands of people in Downtown Mobile for Mardi Gras. I imagine it is safer than that other city, but don’t take chances. Children should not be more than an arms length away. Alcohol use is prevalent during the parades. Children need to know to stay with an adult. Write an adults name and cell phone on a piece of paper. Place the paper in the child’s pocket. If you get separated, they can call. Police have a very strong presence during Mardi Gras, they are there to help if needed.
Watch out for pushers and snatchers. These are unscrupulous people who are out to steal your beads. They push people out of the way to grab beads and trinkets. They have also been know to snatch them out of your hands. If this happens, let them have the beads. Don’t start a fight over plastic trinkets. You will be arrested. If beads land on the ground in front of you, firmly place your foot on the beads and then pick them up. Pushers and snatchers take beads from children too.
Don’t jump the barricades. Barricades line both sides of the parade route. They are there to keep you from getting ran over by a horse or a float. Do not jump the barricades for any reason. You will get a ticket. Visitor’s help raise money every year by jumping the barricades. Police are every where. Some are undercover. Just because you don’t see a uniform, doesn’t mean there’s not a cop. Walk to an area designated for crossing the street.
Take a walk. There’s about a 4 hour break between the MAMGA parade and the Order of Mystics parade. Use this time to take a walk around historic downtown Mobile. Check out the fort or a local museum. Even better, sit down for a true Mobile specialty…seafood. Mobile has the best seafood. It is fresh and local. Downtown Mobile is home to one of the oldest restaurants in the area…Wintzell’s. They are located on Dauphin Street. Give them a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Fat Tuesday is a great party. Full of music, parades, moon pies, and beads. It can be a fun family event. Just keep safety in mind.