The first known Mardi Gras celebration in America took place in Mobile, Alabama in 1703. The Mardi Gras season in Mobile offers activities for more than two and a half weeks leading up to the start of Lent, with parades every day. Other traditional events include Mardi Gras king and queen coronations, balls and luncheons.
Coronations are the formal ceremonies at which a Mardi Gras society's king and/or queen are crowned. The two largest Mardi Gras societies are the Mobile Carnival Association (MCA) and the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association (MAMGA). MCA's coronation of the Queen for King Felix takes place in the evening on the Saturday before Fat Tuesday. MAMGA's coronation of King Elexis is held on Sunday evening.
The Mardi Gras parades are the highlights of the season. All take place downtown and each society holds its own parade on a designated day. Most of the parades start between 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. They feature floats, marching bands, drill teams, clowns and other street performers. Besides the beads, doubloons and candy that are tossed into the crowd by the costumed riders on the floats, moon pies are a prized catch at Mobile Mardi Gras parades. It's common to hear crowds shouting, "Throw me something, Mister" or "Moon pie, moon pie, moon pie" as the floats pass.
Mardi Gras in Mobile means ball season. Every Mardi Gras society hosts a formal ball; some may require standard formal wear, while others may be masked and costumed affairs. They often occur on the night of the society's parade. In 1961, the only civic, as opposed to private, Mardi Gras society was founded--Le Krewe de Bienville. For a fee, members of the public may participate in its annual ball as a seasonal member. However, seasonal membership is open only to individuals living more than 100 miles from Mobile. Those living in Mobile may apply for active membership.
Each year, MCA hosts the King's Supper after the royal coronation. The Queen's Luncheon and Junior Court Luncheon are held on the Monday before Fat Tuesday. MAMGA also hosts a Royal Luncheon on that same day. During these events, the two Mardi Gras societies' reigning courts are introduced. There is a charge for tickets to each event, which can be purchased from the two Mardi Gras societies.
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