Mobile's Mardi GrasThe legacy of Mobile’s Mardi Gras society and the denizens of Carnival are not the same. While a few hundred thousand people flock to the parades during the course of Carnival, many of the populace avoid it all together. To the many inhabitants that do participate, the parades are Mardi Gras. However, there are a few dozen or so who actually run Carnival, as we know it, Mardi Gras to those who do not. These leaders have a lineage going back before Mobile even existed. Kings, Queens and their royal monarchs, are the heredity that rule Mardi Gras. The adage, ‘you have to be born into it’, runs true here. These families have ruled over the season since 1872 when Daniel E. Huger first reigned as Carnival King Felix I, and a carnival association was established. Ethel Hodgson ruled as Mobile's first Mardi Gras queen in 1893.
Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama is the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the United States, having begun in 1703, 15 years before New Orleans was founded in 1718. The festival was a French Catholic tradition, reflecting the French colonial status of the first capital of La Louisiane. Settlers celebrated until midnight on Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday"), before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Carnival and Mardi Gras in Mobile have evolved into a citywide multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures. The city has declared official school holidays for the final Monday and Tuesday (some include Wednesday), regardless of religious affiliation.
Mardi Gras is now celebration all over the nation, in almost every state and in many foreign countries especially where our service men and women are stationed.